Veterinary Products for Sheep
A full list of veterinary products approved for use in Canada is published in the Compendium of Veterinary Products - Canada Edition. Sponsored websites offer access to the most recent compendium. To access, go to the company home page (e.g. www.bioagrmix.com) and click the 'compendium' link. Entering terms such as 'sheep' and 'antibiotic' results in a list of products.
The use of many medications is falling under greater scrutiny and regulatory oversight. The onus is increasingly on producers to carefully plan flock health programs, ensure they have a valid veterinarian-client- patient relationship (VCPR), and to have medications on-hand when needed. Veterinarians also face obligations, such as ensuring they have documented evidence that a VCPR exists before writing prescriptions.
Veterinarian-client-patient Relationship (VCPR)
According to the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association:
A legitimate VCPR is considered to exist only if medical records of the practice contain sufficient evidence of relevant and timely interaction between the veterinarian, animal owner and animal patients.
These interactions may include, but are not limited to:
• Farm or home visits
• Clinic appointments
• Direct animal examinations (individual or herd/flock)
• Laboratory reports
• Production record reviews, etc.
The VCPR is supported by documented evidence that the veterinarian has undertaken the steps necessary to establish medical needs and consequently prescribes and subsequently dispenses pharmaceuticals.
The VCPR is not a signed contractual agreement but rather a working connection and interaction between veterinarian, client and specific animal patient or group of animals. The VCPR is not in and of itself an entitlement to prescribe and subsequently dispense.
Extra-label Drug Use
Many drugs are not approved for use in sheep and goats, and require a veterinary prescription to specify how the product can be used safely. Information regarding dispensing and withdrawal times for extra-label drug use is available to veterinarians from the Canadian Global Food Animal Residue Avoidance Databank. Licensed veterinarians may make requests for information through the University of Saskatchewan website (https://cgfarad.usask.ca/language.php).
Antimicrobial Resistance and Increased Oversight
Antimicrobial resistance occurs when microbes (bacteria, viruses, fungi) are exposed to naturally occurring or human-made antimicrobials. Over- use and misuse of antimicrobial medications amplifies the rate of resist- ance. Once resistance to a drug occurs, it loses effectiveness in com- bating disease and infection in animals and humans. In response to the threat of antimicrobial resistance, many countries are adopting policies to increase control of antimicrobial use in both humans and animals. The Federal Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance and Use in Canada details the federal approach to implementing changes in Canada (www.canada.ca/en/health-canada).
As of December 1, 2018 policy changes increase restrictions regarding the sale of all medically important antimicrobials (MIAs) used in food-producing animals. MIAs are designated as important for human medicine. After this date, these drugs require veterinary prescriptions and must be dispensed through a veterinarian, pharmacist or a feed mill as a mixed medicated feed. Veterinarians are required to ensure docu- ment evidence of a valid VCPR exists before providing a prescription. The changes include all forms of drug administration (i.e. in feed, water, injectables, implants, topical, dusting powder, intramammary, intrauterine, oral, otic). The restrictions do not affect the sale of ionophores (e.g. Monensin), as they are not used in human medicine and are not classed as MIAs.
Further information on regulatory changes to veterinary drug use, importation and distribution is available on the Health Canada website (www.canada.ca/en/health-canada).