The Udder Side of the Story
In recent years we have more and more regulation on us with pharmaceutical use and residues. The government has started FARAD and AMDUCA. AMDUCA stands for Animal Medicinal Drug Usage Clarification Act of 1994, which started FARAD which is Food Animal Residue Avoidance Databank. FARAD is a databank that has all of the drug usage laws in it. These sub-sections of the government dictate what and where we can use pharmaceuticals in food animals.
This has all come about due to the worry that we are having superbug infections in humans. Veterinarians have been fighting this and living with it since 1994. Some of the people on the human side have blamed these infections on the drug usage in food animals. In the past, we have had more antibiotic usage on the human side. We all get sick and go to our doctor and want an antibiotic to get us over the illness. Well, sometimes the infection will be viral and we do not have a cure for viruses. The only thing antibiotics do for a viral infection is to protect against secondary bacterial infections. Your immune system will have to fight the virus off. It’s just that this takes some time and we all want to feel better right away.
It is the same way in veterinary medicine, we all want to give an injection to our animal and have it better the next day.
The other part of this discussion is about over-the-counter medicine. A lot of people will go to the feed store and ask advice about treatment of their animal. The person at the feed store will have a high school degree or maybe even a B.S. in animal science. They do not have the math, pharmacology, physiology, pathology, or medicine knowledge and background like I, or another schooled vet, have to make or prescribe the proper pharmaceutical usage. All they can do is read the label. AMDUCA states very plainly that any pharmaceutical must only be used as it is labeled. Any other usage is a violation of the act and a federal offense if drug residues are found in the food section.
I have heard of many people using Scour Halt, which labeled for pigs only, (the red medicine), for baby calf scours and pinkeye. This is clearly off-label usage and by the law must be prescribed by a veterinarian, but only if they have diagnostic hard evidence that any other labeled drug will not work in this situation. I have also had client’s give LA 200 to an animal and not have it work. When I get to see the animal I will diagnose something else, such as a fractured hip or broken back, in which LA 200 is the wrong medication, they will have to wait for the slaughter withdrawal before sale or butchering. The slaughter withdrawal for LA 200 is 28-30 days.
With this evidence you can see how we are letting the public get the idea we are indiscriminate with our pharmaceutical usage.
Dr. Tim O'Neill owns Country Veterinary Clinic in Farmington, Ark.