VFD Impact: What it Means for Producers and Practitioners

November 3, 2015

By Brian Lubbers, D.V.M., Ph.D., Diplomate ACVCP, director of the Microbial Surveillance Lab at Kansas State University

In my last BRD Report series, I wrote about how we’re continuing to learn more about antibiotic resistance, and with that, identifying ways producers and veterinarians can be better stewards of antibiotics. In the ensuing months, an industry-wide initiative for better stewardship will gradually go into effect with the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) rule.

During the last several years, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been working toward fundamental change in how medically important antibiotics are used in the livestock industry. With that, the agency has identified two focus areas:

  • Using medically important antimicrobials should be limited to uses necessary for ensuring animal health (e.g., not for growth promotion or feed efficiency)
  • Using those medically important drugs should be done so under the supervision of licensed veterinarians

Most people aren’t familiar with VFDs because there are only five antibiotics right now that fall under it. So, the new rule will mean a new process. Here is an overview of some of those changes:

Dr. Brian Lubbers

Dr. Brian Lubbers

Developing a veterinary-client-patient relationship (VCPR): A veterinarian issuing the VFD must be licensed to practice veterinary medicine and be operating in the context of a VCPR as defined by the state. This typically requires them to have a sound understanding of a producer’s operation before issuing a VFD.

Record keeping: The veterinarian, producer and feed distributor will need to keep copies of the VFD for two years and must be ready to provide them for inspection and copying by the FDA upon request.

No extra-label use: When the VFD goes into effect, extra-label use of antimicrobials will be banned. With the VFD rule, the veterinarian and distributor have been put in the place of gatekeeper to ensure this is followed.

These are a few of the logistical challenges that veterinarians and producers might face as the VFD is implemented. But, planning ahead can significantly help with the transition. In the next installment, we’ll address what veterinarians and producers can be doing now to prepare for it.

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