These Changes Will Affect How You Care For Your Sheep
The FDA presented its plan for the next five years in 2018 to aid veterinary supervision of antimicrobials. The strategy targets antimicrobial resistance by restricting the use of medically significant drugs to address, control, or prevent specific illnesses. Although licensed veterinarians must determine the need, you don't have to get prescriptions directly from them. However, if certain animals are not regularly checked, you will have to establish a Veterinary-Client-Patient Relationship (VCPR).
Due to a penicillin shortage lasting several months, supply difficulties have arisen, and now producers will face another alteration that will once more affect the availability of animal antibiotic treatment. If you have been administering them as OTC medications for an extended period to cure pneumonia or shipping fever in your sheep, it will require some adaptation.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Center for Veterinary Medicine Guidance for Industry (GFI) #263 instructs animal drug companies to voluntarily change labels so that medically important antibiotics, which are medically important for human medicine, that are currently available over the counter (OTC) for animals will transition to prescription only. These medications will require a prescription from a licensed veterinarian for legal use and livestock producers will need an established veterinarian-client-patient relationship (VCPR) before purchasing prescription antibiotics.
For answers to frequently asked questions regarding FDA Guidance #263 click here: https://www.fda.gov/animal-veterinary/unpublished-judicious-use-antimicrobials/gfi-263-frequently-asked-questions-farmers-and-ranchers
Beginning June 11, 2023, over-the-counter (OTC) medically important antibiotics for animals will require a prescription from your veterinarian.
How Can You Prepare?
Read the Antibiotic Stewardship for Sheep and Goats. Download here: https://www.fda.gov/media/162073/download
Talk to a veterinarian. Ask the right questions to find a good veterinarian. If you need help finding a veterinarian look here: https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/yourvet/finding-veterinarian or contact your states extension veterinarian here: http://www.extvets.org/contacts.asp
Build a Veterinarian-Client-Patient Relationship (VCPR).
Schedule routine visits.
Set treatment protocols.
I would also suggest contacting your current medical supplier. We use PBS Animal Health. They have information on their website and have created a printable list of items they carry at PBS Animal Health that will require prescriptions starting in June 2023. This should help simplify the process.
I hope this post has helped provide resources so you're prepared to have the medications on hand when you need them. The last thing any of us need is to have a sick sheep and not have access to the medicine that will make them better.