Four black angus cows with red ear tags standing in a field.

Some Over-the-Counter Livestock Antibiotics Now Require a Prescription

Keeley ParishAnimal Health, Livestock diseases, Policy

On June 11, 2023, certain antibiotics for treating livestock that were available over the counter (OTC) will now require a veterinary prescription. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) made an announcement on June 12, 2023 of the transition status.

Slowing Antimicrobial Resistance

During September of 2018, the FDA announced a five-year plan to slow the development of antimicrobial resistance, and to have better drug administration in veterinary settings. This rule change is being implemented this year, and after June 11, new prescription labeled products will enter the market. The goal is to make sure that drugs are only used, when necessary, for treatment, control, or prevention of diseases (U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 2021).

The antibiotics impacted by this decision have been deemed “medically important,” meaning they are used in human medicine, but can also be used to treat animals. This impacts all animals, not only those raised as food animals. With the change, both oral and injectables will be impacted: some of the more notable medications affected are intramammary penicillin and oxytetracycline. The complete list of drugs impacted is posted on the FDA website.

Do Not “Stock Up”

A word of caution: do not stock up on these antibiotics before June 11. Most, if not all, of these antibiotics are not shelf stable. In addition, they have expiration dates, making them less effective for treatment following the printed date. Using the proper channels will be the best way to get these medications.

Establish a Veterinary-Client-Patient-Relationship

Following June 11, 2023, you will only be able to purchase these antibiotics from veterinarians or distributors with a veterinarian’s prescription. A veterinary-client-patient-relationship (VCPR) is required to obtain a prescription. This means a veterinarian will assume responsibility for making clinical decisions about farm animal health, among other requirements.

Those with a VCPR already established shouldn’t expect much of a change. Livestock farmers without a VCPR will need to work with their local veterinarian to set one up to get antibiotic prescriptions (Drovers, 2023). 


OTC Livestock Antibiotics Will Require Prescription June 11. (2023). Drovers.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2021). CVM GFI #263 Recommendations for Sponsors of Medically Important Antimicrobial Drugs Approved for Use in Animals to Voluntarily Bring Under Veterinary Oversight All Products That Continue to be Available Over-the-Counter (FDA-2019-D-3614). Center for Veterinary Medicine.

Share this Post

About the Author

Keeley Parish

Keeley Parish is an undergraduate student at the University of Vermont, studying for a Bachelor of Science in Animal Science. She is on a pre-veterinary track and will later apply to veterinary school. After working with horses for several years and then for an animal sanctuary, she decided to pursue large animal medicine. In her free time, Parish can be found exploring the Burlington area and playing rugby for the UVM women’s team.

About the Editor

Joanna Cummings

Joanna Cummings received a Bachelor of Science in Horticulture from The Pennsylvania State University (PSU), with a specialization in vegetable crop and greenhouse production. At PSU, she was a research technician on no-tillage vegetable crop experiments, and a greenhouse assistant in the All-American Selections Research Gardens. Her career in the agriculture industry includes field research, work with dairy and vegetable farms, and as a greenhouse manager, estate gardener, landscaping and market garden entrepreneur. She transitioned to the science communication field after receiving a master of science degree in environmental communications from Antioch University New England. At Antioch, Joanna was a field botany laboratory teaching assistant, manager of the herbarium, and editor of the department's student newsletter, Notes and Niches. She currently works with Research Professor Julie M. Smith as a communications professional in the University of Vermont Animal and Veterinary Sciences Department. She is the webmaster for the Healthy Farms Healthy Agriculture website.