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Establish Your VCPR

The Fight Against AMR

Health Canada has introduced changes to the way animal owners access antimicrobials in order to prevent the spread of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Going forward, your veterinarian-client-patient relationship (VCPR) will be the key component in antimicrobial prescription and distribution.

Antimicrobials, also known as antibiotics, are invaluable life-saving medications used to treat a large range of infections. They are an essential part of modern healthcare and are used to save countless human and animal lives. As antimicrobials are used, surviving bacteria develop resistances to the antimicrobials we rely on, and spread those resistances to other bacteria through horizontal gene transfer. We are already seeing the effects of AMR, with 700,000 deaths globally per year caused by antimicrobial resistant bacteria, which is expected to rise to 10,000,000 by 2050 if policy changes are not implemented soon.

A Global Movement

Following the lead of the World Health Organization, governments and regulatory bodies around the world are introducing policy changes to better monitor and control antimicrobial usage to prevent the spread of AMR. Antimicrobial stewardship is the responsibility of everyone who uses and distributes antimicrobials. Overcoming this threat to global health requires a global response.

Health Canada is changing the legislation regarding antimicrobial prescription and distribution in order to ensure Canada takes a proactive role in the fight against AMR. Starting December 1, 2018, a prescription will be required to purchase any medically important antimicrobials. Veterinarians will be required to establish a VCPR to write prescriptions for antimicrobials to confirm the right antimicrobials are being used and used responsibly. Once a prescription is written, prescription holders are able to purchase the antimicrobials from a vendor or healthcare professional of their choosing.

What is a VCPR?

All the following conditions must be met for a VCPR to exist:

  • The veterinarian has assumed responsibility for making clinical assessments and recommendations for the health of your animal(s) and you have agreed to them assuming this responsibility.
  • The veterinarian has sufficient knowledge of the animal(s) on which to base the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of the medical condition of the animal(s). This means that the veterinarian:
    • is professionally acquainted with the keeping and care of the animal(s), and
    • has documented relevant and timely interaction between the veterinarian, animal owner or caretaker and animal patients, and
    • has documented medically appropriate information and knowledge about the animal(s)
  • The client has agreed to follow the veterinarian’s recommendations and prescription.
  • The veterinarian is available or has arranged for follow-up evaluation, especially in the event of adverse reactions or failure of the treatment regimen.

As a client in this relationship, your responsibility is to work with your veterinarian, communicating your animals’ needs and conditions to allow your veterinarian to make informed clinical assessments. It is also your responsibility to fully understand the recommendations and treatments your veterinarian advises, asking questions when necessary.

Talk to your veterinarian to develop your VCPR and protect your access to antimicrobials. To learn more about AMR and the threat it poses to public health, visit Alberta Animal Health Source or Raised With Care