Farm Facts & Furrows

By OMAFRA Ag Rep Brian Bell

The way you purchase antibiotics is changing

By December 2018, you’ll need a prescription to buy virtually any livestock antibiotic. Later this year Health Canada will introduce major changes to how livestock producers across Canada can access antibiotics. The new policy does not apply to ionophores, which are not considered to be medically important. Starting December 1, 2018, all livestock producers will need a prescription from a licenced veterinarian before they can buy a medically important antibiotic (MIA) for therapeutic use in livestock production. This applies to all beef cattle sectors: cow-calf operators, backgrounders and feedlots. The new policy doesn’t just apply to injectable products, but also includes some boluses, calf scour treatments, in-feed and in-water antibiotics, and implants that contain MIA. For example, producers will no longer be able to buy a bottle of penicillin or tetracycline to treat common infections such as foot rot, pink eye or mastitis without a valid prescription. Feed mills will only be allowed to sell certain medicated feed formulations if they are given a valid prescription, and will no longer be able to sell antibiotics directly to producers for on-farm mixing. All producers will need to establish a vet-client-patient relationship (VCPR) before they can obtain a prescription for a MIA.