American Association of Bovine Practitioners Prudent Drug Usage Guidelines for Cattle

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The production of safe and wholesome animal products for human consumption is a primary goal of members of the AABP. In reaching that goal, the AABP is committed to the practice of preventive immune system management through the use of vaccines, parasiticides, stress reduction and proper nutritional management. The AABP recognizes that proper and timely management practices can reduce the incidence of disease and therefore reduce the need for antimicrobials; however, antimicrobials remain a necessary tool to manage infectious disease in beef and dairy herds. In order to reduce animal pain and suffering, to protect the economic livelihood of beef and dairy producers, to ensure the continued production of foods of animal origin, and to minimize the shedding of zoonotic bacteria into the environment and potentially the food chain, prudent use of antimicrobials is encouraged. Following are general guidelines for the prudent therapeutic use of antimicrobials in beef and dairy cattle.

  1. The veterinarian's primary responsibility to the client is to help design management, immunization, housing and nutritional programs that will reduce the incidence of disease and the need for antimicrobials.

  2. Antimicrobials should be used only within the confines of a valid veterinarian-client-patient relationship; this includes both dispensing and issuance of prescriptions.

  3. Veterinarians should properly select and use antimicrobial drugs.
    1. Veterinarians should participate in continuing education programs that include therapeutics and emerging and/or development of antimicrobial resistance.
    2. The veterinarian should have strong clinical evidence of the identity of the pathogen causing the disease, based upon clinical signs, history, necropsy examination, laboratory data and past experience.
    3. The antimicrobial selected should be appropriate for the target organism and should be administered at a dosage and route that are likely to achieve effective levels in the target organ.
    4. Product choices and regimens should be based on available laboratory and package insert information, additional data in the literature, and consideration of the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of the drug.
    5. Antimicrobials should be used with specific clinical outcome(s) in mind, such as fever reduction, return of mastitic milk to normal, or to reduce shedding, contagion and recurrence of disease.
    6. Periodically monitor herd pathogen susceptibility and therapeutic response, especially for routine therapy such as dry cow intramammary antibiotics, to detect changes in microbial susceptibility and to evaluate antimicrobial selections.
    7. Use products that have the narrowest spectrum of activity and known efficacy in vivo against the pathogen causing the disease problem.
    8. Antimicrobials should be used at a dosage appropriate for the condition treated for as short a period of time as reasonable, i.e., therapy should be discontinued when it is apparent that the immune system can manage the disease, reduce pathogen shedding and minimize recurrence of clinical disease or development of the carrier state.
    9. Antimicrobials of lesser importance in human medicine should be used in preference to newer generation drugs that may be in the same class as drugs currently used in humans if this can be achieved while protecting the health and safety of the animals.
    10. Antimicrobials labeled for use for treating the condition diagnosed should be used whenever possible. The label, dose, route, frequency and duration should be followed whenever possible.
    11. Antimicrobials should be used extra-label only within the provisions contained within AMDUCA regulations.
    12. Compounding of antimicrobial formulations should be avoided.
    13. When appropriate, local therapy is preferred over systemic therapy.
    14. Treatment of chronic cases or those with a poor chance of recovery should be avoided. Chronic cases should be removed or isolated from the remainder of the herd.
    15. Combination antimicrobial therapy should be discouraged unless there is information to show an increase in efficacy or suppression of resistance development for the target organism.
    16. Prophylactic or metaphylactic use of antimicrobials should be based on a group, source or production unit evaluation rather than being utilized as standard practice.
    17. Drug integrity should be protected through proper handling, storage and observation of the expiration date.
  4. Veterinarians should endeavor to ensure proper on-farm drug use.
    1. Prescription or dispensed drug quantities should be appropriate to the production-unit size and expected need so that stockpiling of antimicrobials on the farm is avoided.
    2. The veterinarian should train farm personnel who use antimicrobials on indications, dosages, withdrawal times, route of administration, injection site precautions, storage, handling, record keeping and accurate diagnosis of common diseases. The veterinarian should ensure that labels are accurate to instruct farm personnel on the correct use of antimicrobials.
    3. Veterinarians are encouraged to provide written guidelines to clients whenever possible to describe conditions and instructions for antimicrobial use on the farm or unit.

Relevant AVMA Policy: