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New FDA rules coming for livestock medication will limit over-the-counter access

Chelsea Stanfield

Starting June 11, livestock producers will have to get a prescription from a veterinarian to buy antibiotics that they could previously purchase over-the-counter.

Since 2017 the vast majority of animal antibiotics require a veterinarian prescription. But about 4% could still be obtained over-the-counter.

That’s changing. As of June 11, a new FDA rule removes the remaining over-the-counter antibiotics from the market.

“These are drugs such as injectables, like penicillin, or tetracycline… drugs that are used to treat mammary infections, as well as some of the oral antibiotics that we use," said Barry Whitworth, a veterinarian and works for Oklahoma State University Extension.

He says the FDA is trying to combat antimicrobial resistance in people.

"There is a small association with these antibiotics that are used in animals… we do see resistant bacteria that humans can get," Whitworth said.

The rule states antibiotics for food-producing animals — like cows — should only be used with a veterinarian’s guidance.

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Xcaret Nuñez covered agriculture and rural communities for KOSU as a corps member with Report for America from June 2022 to September 2023.
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