The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has applauded the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its release of the Veterinary Feed Directive final rule, which will cement veterinary oversight of medically important antibiotics used in feed for food animals, ensuring the protection of animal health and welfare as well as food safety and public health. The AVMA's early and ongoing collaboration with the FDA has helped ensure that the rule is practical and in the best interests of animal health, public health and the veterinary profession.
The FDA, according to AVMA Chief Executive Officer Dr. Ron DeHaven, has worked hard to expedite the process, which will help veterinarians and food producers around the country as they prepare for the 2017 implementation of widespread changes in how antibiotics are used in food-animal production.
"The veterinary feed directive (VFD) is integral to the implementation of the guidance documents, and we are pleased to have had the opportunity to provide valuable input into the regulation. This is a great example of how collaboration by the FDA with stakeholders has brought about meaningful improvements and a successful outcome," DeHaven said. "Antibiotic resistance is a threat that the veterinary profession takes very seriously, and that's why the nation's veterinarians have been, and remain, engaged with the FDA and food producers to ensure that livestock are healthy and that our food supply stays safe by overseeing the use of antibiotics to ensure appropriate use."
The VFD mandates how medically important antibiotics given to food animals are to be used and distributed to producers. Through the VFD, producers must obtain veterinary approval prior to using medicated feeds containing medically important antibiotics. The VFD final rule contains a provision related to the veterinarian-client-patient relationship (VCPR) that the AVMA considers to be particularly critical. The provision states that veterinarians must follow state laws related to the VCPR provided that the state's VCPR requirements are applicable to the VFD. Otherwise, veterinarians must meet the criteria for the federally defined VCPR to issue an order for a VFD drug.
"This provision, which the AVMA fully supports, provides for both flexibility and consistency in how veterinarians and food producers can work in accordance with both the letter and the spirit of the FDA guidance," DeHaven said. "This is really a milestone in the antimicrobial resistance strategy. Veterinary oversight is critical to ensuring appropriate judicious use, and this provision provides clarity to those who will be responsible for it."
The AVMA worked closely with state veterinary medical associations to alert the states on the need for a VCPR requirement at the state level to ensure that veterinary oversight would be clearly mandated at every level when the VFD process is fully implemented.
"When state VCPRs complement federal regulations, everyone wins; it strengthens and supports the goals of the program to ensure healthy animals, a safe food supply and the reduction of antibiotic resistance," DeHaven said. "Whether it's for use in people or animals, the nation's veterinarians support the judicious use of antibiotics to prevent, control, and treat diseases. Veterinarians want to help ensure that antibiotics remain an important part of preventing and treating diseases in both humans and animals."
The AVMA is reviewing the entire contents of the final rule and will be submitting official comment to it.
For more information on antimicrobial use and antimicrobial resistance, visit the AVMA's web site at avma.org/antibioticuse.