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Letters of the law: VFD, Rx and OTC

Who decides which medications will require a veterinary feed directive (VFD), prescription (Rx) or be available over the counter (OTC)?

That’s in the hands of FDA or, more specifically, FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine.[1]

A VFD drug is an antimicrobial deemed medically important to humans that is permitted for use in or on animal feed.[2] As of January 2017, all VFD drugs will require a VFD from a licensed veterinarian for use in poultry and livestock. Drug labels will clearly indicate which ones require a VFD.

If at least one VFD drug is in a combination — for instance, one drug in an approved combination is a VFD drug and another is an OTC drug — a VFD is still required.

So when is an Rx needed? All medically important antimicrobials to be administered in the drinking water of poultry and livestock will require an Rx from a licensed veterinarian. This rule also kicks in January 2017.

As always, OTC feed medications such as ionophores, synthetic anticoccidials, bacitracin and bambermycins will not require an Rx.




[1] #120 Guidance for Industry Small Entity Compliance Guide Veterinary Feed Directive Regulation Questions and Answers. FDA.  Accessed December 15, 2015.

[2] Veterinary Feed Directive Requirements for Veterinarians. FDA.  Accessed December 15, 2015.



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