Off-label use of registered veterinary chemical products
Off-label use refers to situations when a registered agricultural or veterinary chemical is used in a manner that is not specified on the product label.
'Prescription animal remedy' products
'Prescription animal remedy' products (e.g. antibiotics) are dispensed by veterinary practitioners for animals under their care.
These products must be used according to the directions provided by the veterinary practitioner, which can differ from the directions found on the product packaging. In this situation, the veterinary practitioner will provide an appropriate withholding period to ensure unacceptable chemical residues are not detected at slaughter.
Once dispensed, a 'prescription animal remedy' product cannot be used for a different purpose without written permission from the veterinary practitioner.
Some off-label use is allowed for 'over-the-counter' products (e.g. worm drenches, lice treatments). These products may be used at or below the label rate and frequency in food producing species other than cattle, pigs, sheep and chickens, unless specifically prohibited on the label. They must be used in accordance with any other label directions. If producers choose to use a product off-label, it is their responsibility to manage any adverse outcomes that may result from the off-label use, such as unacceptable chemical residues.
In Victoria, veterinary chemical products administered to cattle, sheep, pigs, or chickens (Gallus domestica) must not be used off-label unless:
- the person administering the product is a veterinary surgeon
- the administration has been authorised in writing by a veterinary surgeon, or
- the dose rate is less than that stated on the label for that particular species and for that particular use.
Any other off-label use requires a permit from the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority.
Off-label use of agricultural chemicals on animals
A registered agricultural chemical cannot be used as a veterinary chemical. It is illegal to use an agricultural chemical in a food producing animal.