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Thursday, 01 March 2018 11:05

Don't have a VCPR? The time to get one is now

Written by  Jamie Rieger
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Getting an antibiotic for your cow will be a little harder to obtain starting Dec. 1; unless you already have established a veterinary-client-patient relationship (VCPR) with your vet.

If you don't have that VCPR, now would be the time to start working on one. As soon as Dec 1 arrives, livestock producers will be required by Health Canada to get their antimicrobials from a vet who they have a VCPR with and not from places like a farm supply store.
Dr. Kirby Finkbeiner, from the Newell Veterinary Clinic in Brooks, said they were made aware of the impending changes to the regulations about a year ago, but the changes would not have an impact on her business.
"Ultimately, it doesn't change how we do things here in Alberta. We've never been able to prescribe without having the VCPR," said Finkbeiner. "From our standpoint, it's not going to change. We have valid relationships with our clients and have to have all that documentation about herd management practices, anti-biotics, and vaccinations."
Who it will impact is the producers who do not have a VCPR with their vets for livestock antimicrobials and they need to start working on getting one established.
"It is going to change in that they will not be able to go to (their farm supply store) to get their penicillin," said Finkbeiner. "It just means they are going to have to have a good working relationship with their vet."
"We would go out and to an examination, perform a diagnosis, and dispense any necessary medication. We want to make sure the right antibiotic is being used and the right dosage," said Finkbeiner, who will visit a herd twice a year for pregnancy checking and semen testing.
The two main objectives for the policy changes:
1. To better manage antimicrobial use and hopefully even reduce the amount of antibiotics used in animal agriculture (food-animal production) with the aim of reducing or slowing the development of AMR antimicrobial resistance) in animal pathogens.
2. With the complexity of factors contributing to AMR, the new policies will demonstrate the proper stewardship of the agriculture industry in being responsible in the proper use of antibiotics - showing that products are only used when needed, at the appropriate dose and within the recognized withdrawal times. It will help stem a growing public perception that the livestock industry casually uses high rates of antibiotics without regard for animal, environmental, or human health conditions.
The change will apply to any medically important antibiotic (MIA) to be used for livestock and will be applied to all cattle sectors, including cow-calf operations and feedlots. Many of these MIA are already only available through a prescription.
Finkbeiner noted policies have been in place in Alberta for years under the Alberta Veterinarian Profession Act.
"I've been a vet in Alberta for 12 years and this has always been the case here. Health Canada is trying to be more diligent," she said.

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