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Can the U.S. VFD Really Change Antibiotic Use?

It’s been a very long road to the January 2017 implementation of the U.S. Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD). The first regulatory action concerning antibiotic resistance was implemented in 2003. For many years prior to that, the FDA had been studying the potential for antibiotic use in animals to have a public health impact.

“Before the VFD rule and Guidance 213, Guidance 209 stated that the FDA believed that production uses, for improving nutritional efficiency and growth promotion, of antibiotics that are medically important was injudicious, and remaining therapeutic uses, which were for disease prevention, control and treatment, should be under veterinary oversight,” said Liz Wagstrom, DVM and Chief Veterinarian for the National Pork Producers Council.

Guidance 213 and the VFD work together, in order to explain to sponsors how to change labels and what new research is needed to achieve therapeutic claims. The VFD rule laid out the changes to antibiotic usage in order to make it more feasible to have VFDs across a wide range of products.

“The general purpose of the VFD is to ensure antibiotics are being used properly, but I think the agency expects to see a reduction in use,” Wagstrom said. “However, there could be some in FDA who will say that if more people use treatment with higher doses, we may not actually see a reduction. Their definition of success would be that they could say the antibiotics being used with veterinarian's orders are at the right dose for the right disease for the right duration.”

Will the VFD Reduce Antibiotic Use?

Without good data on how and why antibiotics are being used now, Wagstrom says it's hard to know how much they'll change. For example, of medically important antibiotics, tetracycline has the highest sale in animal agriculture. Tetracycline can be used for growth promotion as well as disease prevention, control and treatment in multiple species. All uses of tetracycline will be allowed to continue with the exception of growth promotion.

“Because we don't currently know what percent is being used for growth promotion, it's hard to anticipate how use might decrease. Some veterinarians may not write a VFD for some uses, while some farmers may try to get by without antibiotics because they don't want to pay for a veterinary call,” she said. “There's also a lot of uncertainty around maintaining a veterinary-client relationship and how that might affect use.”

Alternatives to Antibiotic Growth Promoters

Starting in January when the VFD is implemented, the challenge for animal food producers is to find alternatives to antibiotic growth promoters (AGPs) to minimize the risks of affecting overall production and animal performance.

“To assist in the transition from AGPs to alternatives, we are providing customers with feed additives to reduce feed costs and lessen susceptibility to enteric diseases all while increasing animal performance with the use of enzymes, probiotics, prebiotics, organic acids and minerals,” said Bob Buresh, PhD, Executive Manager, Technical Services – North America at Novus International.

To learn more about Novus’s approach to helping customers through the VFD in beef, dairy, swine or poultry, click on the link below.


Beef - http://www.novusint.com/en-us/pages/q3beefnewsletter
Dairy - http://www.novusint.com/en-us/pages/q3dairynewsletter
Swine - http://www.novusint.com/en-us/pages/q3porknewsletter
Poultry - http://www.novusint.com/en-us/pages/q3poultrynewsletter