2018 PRESCRIPTION RULE CHANGES
As many producers are now aware, changes have come as to the purchase and sale of antimicrobials in Veterinary medicine in Canada starting December 1st 2018.
This info is an attempt to clarify the practical implications of these new Canada-wide standards.
- It is important to understand that these changes are coming into effect because of the current and developing problem of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
- The animal industry is facing increasing scrutiny every day as to how we use antibiotics.
- In the USA alone, it is estimated that 80% of all antibiotics used in a year are used in feed to farm animals.
- It is believed that this use is contributing to the resistance of bacteria to certain antibiotics.
- Worldwide, 700 000 people die from antimicrobial resistant infections every year and by the year 2050, it is estimated this number will increase to 10 million individuals annually.
- To respond to this growing concern, the Canadian government developed a Federal Framework and Federal Action Plan on AMR.
- Health Canada has mandated (by recommendation of the World Health Organization) that all antibiotics will now be considered prescription products (including penicillin and tetracycline antibiotics).
- This is a federally mandated change – NOT a push by veterinarians to create a monopoly on the antibiotic market nor an attempt to limit your access to them
At the Veterinary Clinic
- This means all antibiotics must be purchased through a veterinary practice – no longer can they be purchased over the counter at UFA, Co-op, Peavey Mart etc. because now all antibiotics require a prescription.
- Provincial law (through the Veterinary Profession Act – Alberta Regulation 44/1986) mandates that a valid veterinary-client-patient relationship exists before any prescription drug can be sold to an individual
- This relationship is established through farm visits and communication with a veterinarian about the medical needs of your herd
To meet the requirements of the both federal and provincial legislation, it is necessary for veterinarians at the Westlock Vet Center to have medically important information about your herd. This information is necessary groundwork to start meeting the requirements of a prescription. To do this we will be using a Herd Health Questionnaire and/or site visits. This will provide an excellent opportunity to discuss vaccines, treatment protocols and general herd management for your herd. In the long run this will result in less hassle and time wasted when attempting to pick up antibiotics and vaccines for your herd from the veterinary clinic. With this herd information we will be able to create standing prescriptions in your file so that you will NOT need to talk to a veterinarian every time you need to pick up a bottle of antibiotics from the veterinary clinic. For all clients we will have to create a prescription for each medication we sell you and with it have a certain amount of refills/volume we can sell based off of your expected annual usage. If you go over this usage we will have to re-visit your usage amounts. Further to this if you are considering a different prescription medication that we agree will be effective, we will have to write a prescription for that as well before we can sell it to you.
How we intend to implement these new changes:
For an Existing Client we will require a Herd Health Questionnaire be filled out. We will try to achieve this during regular visits to your farm. Any fees associated with filling out the herd health questionnaire will also be waived for 2019.
New or infrequent clients:
- For a New Client it will be required that a site visit and Herd Health Questionnaire be filled out. The initial site visit/consultation fee will be waived in the first year to establish a vet-client-patient relationship for 2019. Mileage may still apply but we will make all attempts to minimize this cost.
- For infrequent clients or clients with only a small amount of animals that we see periodically, you will have to prepare and plan ahead. You will not be able to just stop in to grab some antibiotics or other prescription medications if we do not have a regular relationship (loosely defined as at least once annually) with you and your animals. Phoning ahead to speak with a veterinarian and/or bringing along photos and videos of your affected animals may be enough to allow us to prescribe something for you, but not always. Reaching out to us to discuss the typical needs of your animals and what you typically use before you even need it can help us to avoid delaying you services in the case of an emergency.
- For clients that typically use another veterinary clinic but occasionally stop in to pick up some prescription medications from us you will either have to:
- a) Have your main veterinarian send prescriptions for all products you would expect to purchase from us or
- b) Schedule a site visit to establish a proper vet-client-patient relationship
If neither of these conditions have been met we CANNOT sell you prescription products, even if we have in the past.
How you will have to adapt to these changes:
As you can see things will not be as simple and fast as they used to be.
We are all adapting to these changes and there will be growing pains for all of us. We just ask for your patience, your cooperation and for you to plan ahead so we can all make this transition smooth.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is a VCPR?
A: A veterinary-client-patient relations is defined by the Alberta Veterinary Association as:
- The veterinarian has assumed responsibility for making clinical assessments and recommendations regarding the health of the animal(s) and need for medical treatment.
- The veterinarian has sufficient knowledge of the animal(s) on which to base the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of the medical condition of the animal(s). This means that the veterinarian:
- is professionally acquainted with the keeping and care of the animal(s), and
- has documented relevant and timely interaction between the veterinarian, animal owner or caretaker and animal patients, and
- has documented medically appropriate information and knowledge about the animal(s)
- The client has agreed to follow the veterinarian’s recommendations and prescription.
- The veterinarian is available or has arranged for follow-up evaluation, especially in the event of adverse reactions or failure of the treatment regimen.
Q: How do I avoid inconvenience and added costs?
A: Establish a VCPR pro-actively, work with a veterinarian to see how your current herd health program can be strengthened to help reduce disease and how you can establish preventative measures. See how working with your veterinarian can be an investment that actually improves your bottom line.
Q: Will a veterinarian need to exam every sick animal before I can get a prescription to treat them?
A: Not necessarily, as long as you have a current Vet, Client, Patient Relationship (VCPR). It should be noted that there is no defined length of time when a VCPR is valid, just as long as the criteria in the first questions are met.
Q: Is a veterinarian the only one allowed to administer antibiotics?
A: No. Once you have purchased the antibiotic you are still able to administer it yourself as you have in the past.
Q: Will I need a new prescription every time I have sick animal?
A: Again, not necessarily. Work with your Vet to plan ahead. Once a herd health protocol is developed you can have prescriptions on file to be filled if they are needed.
Q: What if there are no veterinarians in my area?
A: You can have a VCPR with any veterinarian, local to you or not, provided they are licensed to practice in Alberta.