Veterinary practitioner requirements

Veterinary practitioners are regulated under a number of Acts administered by different bodies. Agriculture Victoria regulates veterinary practitioners under the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Control of Use) Act 1992 and the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981.

Veterinary practitioners are to only sell, supply or prescribe veterinary chemicals for the treatment of an animal that:

  • is owned by a bona fide client
  • is under the vet’s care
  • for which the vet has established a therapeutic need for the treatment of the animal with the veterinary chemical in question.

This requirement is outlined in Section 19 and 38 of the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Regulations 2017, and is further reinforced under Guidelines 14 and 15 of the Veterinary Practitioners Registration Board of Victoria.

Under the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Control of Use) Regulations 2017 veterinary practitioners supplying veterinary chemicals for the treatment of stock animals must give the buyer appropriate information relating to the use of the chemical. This information must be supplied to the buyer before or at the time of the initial treatment.

If the chemical is to be used in an on label manner —meaning a manner consistent with the instructions on a label registered by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) — then no addition information needs to be provided as long as the APVMA label is attached to the container.

If the use is off label, meaning a manner that differs from the instructions on a label registered by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA), then the veterinary practitioner must provide to the chemical user either their own veterinary practitioner label or an advice note.

A veterinary practitioner label or advice note must also be provided if the veterinary practitioner is supplying:

  • an unregistered veterinary chemical
  • an APVMA registered chemical that does not have a label
  • a Schedule 4 Poison
  • a chemical that is to be used in a complex dosage regime that requires the veterinary practitioner to provide separate written instructions.

The veterinary practitioner label or advice note must contain the following information:

  • business name, address and telephone number of the veterinary practitioner
  • date the product was sold
  • species, breed, age and sex of the animal to be treated
  • directions for treating the animal with the product
  • withholding period for the species treated (if this does not apply, use the statement 'nil withholding requirement')
  • batch number of the product and its expiry date (if known)
  • product name (unless it is sold in a container bearing the manufacturer's label or it is an unregistered chemical product)
  • name and concentration of the active constituent (if the veterinary chemical product is unregistered.

If veterinary practitioners provide a veterinary practitioner label, it must be securely attached to the container of the product.

A veterinary advice note template has been developed by Agriculture Victoria:

The information recommended for recording in the veterinary advice note template meets the legislative requirements for chemical use records for both veterinarians and producers. The template is only a suggested format and may be customised as required.

Unregistered chemicals

Under an Order in Council made via the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Control of Use) Act 1992 the sale of unregistered chemicals by a veterinary practitioner or a pharmacist acting in accordance with the written instructions of a veterinary practitioner is restricted.

In relation to unregistered chemicals and stock animals, the quantity of chemical must only be sufficient to treat a single stock animal.

In relation to unregistered chemicals and non-stock animals the veterinary chemical must be supplied with the following information:

  • business name, address and telephone number of the veterinary practitioner or pharmacist
  • date the product was sold
  • species, breed, age and sex of the animal to be treated
  • directions for treating the animal with the product
  • name and concentration of the active constituent.

Withholding period requirements

Under the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Control of Use) Regulations 2017 veterinary practitioners must ensure that the withholding period specified for a veterinary chemical product will ensure that any stock or produce derived from stock treated with that product (meat, milk, wool) will not be contaminated with unacceptable chemical residues as a result of the treatment.

The withholding period set cannot be less than that specified by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA).

Recording the sale or use of veterinary chemical product by a vet

Under the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Control of Use) Regulations 2017 veterinary practitioners are required to make records of their use or sale of a veterinary chemical product for the treatment of a stock animal. This requirement applies to any veterinary chemicals that:

  • contain a Schedule 4 Poison
  • are an unregistered veterinary chemical product
  • are a registered veterinary chemical sold without an APVMA approved label
  • are a registered veterinary chemical sold for a use not specified on the APVMA approved label
  • has an applicable withholding period.

The required records for the sale or use of a veterinary chemical product are:

  • product name
  • date the product was sold or used
  • directions for use of the product
  • name and address of the buyer
  • quantity (amount) of the product sold or used
  • species of animal treated or intended to be treated
  • location of the animal treated or intended to be treated
  • withholding period (if any) for the product.

If the veterinary chemical product is unregistered, the following additional records are required:

  • the name of active constituent
  • the concentration in which the product was sold or used
  • the form in which the product was sold or used.

Veterinary practitioners must make the required records within 24 hours of selling or using a veterinary chemical product and keep them for 2 years.

Another person may make records of veterinary chemical use on behalf of a veterinary practitioner, such as a receptionist or veterinary nurse, however the veterinary practitioner is responsible for ensuring that the records are made in a timely and accurate manner.

As outlined in Guideline 7, the Veterinary Practitioners Registration Board of Victoria requires additional records over and above the minimum outlined in law to be kept. This reflects the Board's view of best practice and is the standard against which they will measure compliance with their expectations of veterinary practitioners. For example the legal minimum length of time records must be kept is 2 years, however Guideline 14 states the records of all veterinary medications administered or supplied must be retained for at least 7 years.

Prohibitive label statements

Under the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Control of Use) Act 1992 veterinary practitioners are not permitted to use a veterinary chemical product contrary to a prohibition contained on the manufacturer's label unless they have an appropriate APVMA permit. Examples of such prohibitions includes statements like 'Do not use in food producing animals' or 'Not for use in cattle that are producing milk'.

More information

Page last updated: 02 Mar 2022