Veterinary Feed Directive

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In United States agricultural policy, a Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) is a written statement that authorizes the owner or caretaker of animals to obtain and use animal feed containing VFD drugs to treat their animals in accordance with the FDA-approved directions for use. A VFD drug is a new animal drug approved under section 512(b) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. VFD drugs are limited to use under the professional supervision of a licensed veterinarian. No extra-label uses of VFD drugs are permitted. VFD drugs are a category created as part of the Animal Drug Availability Act 1996 (P.L. 104-250) and final regulations are published by the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine in 21 CFR 510, 514, and 558. The purpose of implementing the VFD is to aid in decreasing the levels of antibiotic resistance in human and animal populations. The FDA and CDC are now regulating the consumption and distribution of antibiotics due to the animal agriculture industry being identified as having an impact on the number of antibiotic resistance cases. A producer must obtain from their licensed veterinarian a VFD form to have access to antibiotic containing feed.

Producers must have a current veterinary-client-patient-relationship (VCPR) in order to obtain a written VFD. AVMA [1] states the requirements to have a current VCPR. Veterinarians must have sufficient knowledge of the health of the animals, and be able to diagnose the animal’s condition. The licensed veterinarian is held responsible for the diagnosis, treatment, and outcome of the animal. VCPR’s cannot be confirmed electronically or over the phone; the veterinarian must physically examine a producer’s animal within the past twelve months to keep the VCPR current. VCPR’s must be followed under the state’s guidelines that have been approved by the FDA.

The USDA [2] states the information that must be included on a VFD form. A veterinary feed directive form must include the licensed veterinarian’s as well as the client’s contact information including the name, address, and telephone number. It must contain the physical location of the animals that are going to be fed the medicated feed. Dates that must be included consist of the VFD issue date, and the last date the animal can have the feed provided. The drug name needs to be present, as well as indication from the veterinarian that explains what the medicated feed is treating/curing. It also needs the prescription amount and strength of the medication that will be in the feed and the duration of feed use. The species and production class of animals, and the approximate number of animals that will be fed is also required. It must contain the number of refills authorized; the refills can only be authorized if the FDA drug approval or index listing allows. The withdrawal time for production animals, and special instructions need to be recorded. The form needs the veterinarian’s electronic or written signature, and any additional information for the client.

Not all forms of antibiotics are being transferred to the VFD drug class; these drugs will remain over the counter. The USDA [3] states that Ionophores, Bacitracin, Bambermycins, and Tiamulin will remain over the counter. Injectables, boluses, or other dosages are not affected by this regulation. There are other drugs that can be found through the FDA that will not require a prescription to purchase.

To ensure the judicious use of antibiotics in food producing animals, the new regulations went into effect on January 1, 2017 and many drugs changed from OTC to Rx status for medicated water and feed. Distributors and retailers that use these products are required to meet the new VFD regulations when dispensing these products.[4]

Third party solutions exist to automate the creation, management and retention of Veterinary Feed Directives in accordance with current regulations.[citation needed]


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  4. ^ article = FDA Reminds Retail Establishments of Upcoming Changes to the Use of Antibiotics in Food Animals|url=