Use of Aquatic Animal Therapeutic Agents

Comment on this policy

The AVMA recognizes the need for sufficient approved therapeutics to facilitate safe and effective prevention, diagnosis, treatment and control of aquatic animal disease and:

  1. Supports the implementation of the Minor Use and Minor Species Animal Health Act of 2004;
  2. Cooperates with and, when appropriate, participate in realistic and responsible initiatives by other organizations to obtain the approval of new therapeutics for aquatic animals;
  3. Promotes the provision of educational information for veterinarians, producers and owners on relevant subjects related to aquatic animal therapeutics; and,
  4. Works with government agencies to develop appropriate policies and guidelines regarding the safe and effective use of aquatic animal therapeutics.
  5. Encourages a veterinarian-client-patient-relationship when drugs are used in all aquatic animals.

The following points should be considered with respect to the use of therapeutics in aquatic animal disease:

  1. Prescription and Veterinary Feed Directive drugs

    Veterinarians are solely responsible for writing prescriptions and Veterinary Feed Directives for animal (including aquatic animal) drug treatment; however, there are very few approved drugs for aquatic animals. Therefore, in addition to the overall actions listed above, the AVMA will work to address this situation by:

    1. Supporting and encouraging the responsible use of therapeutic agents in aquatic animals; and,
    2. Supporting the promulgation of regulations that permit the extra-label use of drugs and medicated feeds for aquatic animals.
  2. Non-prescription ("Over the Counter") drugs

    The AVMA encourages veterinarians and aquatic animal owners to work closely together in the selection and use of approved or indexed drugs, as identified by FDA CVM, to ensure that these are administered in a manner consistent with:

    1. The health needs of the aquatic animals;
    2. The product label and drug pharmacological properties;
    3. Judicious use of antimicrobial drugs;
    4. The safety of the animal, the user, and the surrounding environment; and,
    5. Applicable regulations.
  3. Unapproved Drugs

    The AVMA encourages appropriate action be taken to remove drugs that are being illegally marketed.

  4. Veterinary Biologics

    The AVMA recognizes that infectious disease prevention can be achieved through the appropriate use of important health management alternatives to drugs, including veterinary biologics. The AVMA supports the central role that veterinarians play in the development, selection, administration and monitoring of veterinary biologics for aquatic animal disease prevention, diagnosis and control. The AVMA endorses the development and use of biologics and disease diagnostic tests for aquatic animals in accordance with USDA regulations for these products in other species.

  5. Pesticides

    The AVMA recognizes that pesticides used to control life stages of parasites off the animal but in the environment are licensed through the Environmental Protection Agency and must be used in accordance with the label directions; that these products are often used without veterinary supervision; and that persons purchasing these products do not require a veterinary prescription.

The AVMA encourages veterinarians and aquatic animal owners or production facility managers to work together to ensure the responsible use of approved pesticides as part of an integrated pest control program.

The AVMA also recommends that non-veterinarians considering a pesticide treatment for an aquatic animal holding facility contact a veterinarian with experience in the management of aquatic animal diseases as an important step in the preparation of an appropriate integrated pest management plan.