Responsible use of Medically Important Antimicrobials in Animals

As of December 1, 2018, all Medically Important Antimicrobials (MIAs) for veterinary use will be sold by prescription only.

Antimicrobial drugs like antibiotics are important to fight bacterial infections in humans and animals.

The responsible use of MIAs is therefore intended to preserve their effectiveness and minimize the development and spread of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). We all have a role to play.

On this page

Actions to promote responsible use of MIAs

We are working with stakeholders on a number of important actions to promote responsible use, such as:

  • adding MIAs now sold over the counter to our Prescription Drug List (PDL), to make sure they are sold by prescription only:
    • supervision is a vital part of antimicrobial oversight. Veterinarians have the training to assess and diagnose animal disease. They can decide if antimicrobial drugs are needed and prescribe the right treatment.
  • removing growth promotion claims from MIA drug labels:
    • the use of MIAs in food-producing animals should only be to treat or prevent diseases
  • labelling all in-feed and in-water MIAs with responsible use statements

These actions are aimed at:

  • protecting human and animal health and food safety
  • promoting responsible use of MIAs in animals to preserve effectiveness
  • aligning with international best practices

These actions will all take place at the same time because they all require changes to drug labels.

Our webpage on antimicrobial resistance and animals gives more details on this work and identifies the regulatory changes made to promote responsible use.

What will be different as of December 1, 2018

All medically important antimicrobials will be on the Prescription Drug List – Products for Veterinary Use.

You will need to get a prescription from a veterinarian for your animals for:

  • prescription drugs (including for example, injectables, in-water and in-feed formulations). You will be able to buy these drugs from a veterinarian or pharmacist
    • Importation rules will continue as per existing Food and Drug Regulations.
  • prescription medicated feed – this is livestock feed that contains a prescription drug, including:
    • supplements
    • macro and micro premixes
    • complete feed
    You will be able to buy these medicated feeds from a commercial feed mill, veterinarian or pharmacist.

There will be changes to the labels of MIAs:

  • a “Pr” will be on the principal display panel
  • growth promotion claims and related directions for use will be removed
  • responsible use statements will be put on labels of all in-feed and in-water MIAs

Prescription Status – affected drugs and dosage forms

The Prescription Drug List (PDL) is a list of medicinal ingredients. Any drug containing an ingredient on this list must be sold by prescription.

Since 2004, new MIAs approved by Health Canada have been included on the PDL and must be sold by prescription.

We are now moving all remaining MIAs approved for veterinary use before 2004 to the PDL. With this change, we establish the same level of oversight for those MIAs approved before 2004 as for those approved after.

The following MIA ingredients will be included on the PDL for Veterinary Use:

  • Apramycin
  • Bacitracin
  • Erythromycin
  • Lincomycin
  • Neomycin
  • Penicillin G
  • Spectinomycin
  • Streptomycin/Dihydrostreptomycin
  • Sulphonamides
  • Tilmicosin 
  • Tiamulin
  • Tylosin/Tylvalosin
  • Virginiamycin
  • Tetracycline/Chlortetracycline/Oxytetracycline
  • Or their salts or derivatives

This includes all dosage forms whether:

  • in feed
  • in water
  • otic
  • oral
  • topical
  • implant
  • injectable
  • intrauterine
  • intramammary
  • dusting powder

You can also find more information about the PDL process on our Prescription Drug List Questions and Answers page.

Timelines for the changes

Until December 1, 2018, the drugs listed in the ‘Prescription status – affected drugs and dosage forms’ section will not be prescription status.

As of December 1, 2018, the drugs listed in the ‘Prescription status – affected drugs and dosage forms’ section will be prescription status.

Beginning early 2018, you may start to see some label changes on the market during the transition between old and new labels.

Who we are working with

Over the last several years, we have been engaging stakeholders about these changes and will continue to support these actions with ongoing engagement and communication.

We will continue working with:

For more information

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