Enhanced Databank Gives Veterinarians Better Access to Extra-Label Advice

Ron Johnson. Supplied photo

Livestock and poultry veterinarians involved with extra-label use of drugs for food animals now have an improved – and vitally important – e-resource available to them.

Directors of the web-based Canadian food animal residue avoidance databank (which goes by the acronym CgFARAD) have unveiled a new user-friendly and effective database and website for licensed veterinarians in Canada. The new site is loaded with drop down menus containing streamlined drug and disease condition choices, offering a more logical lay-out to guide veterinarians to the answers they seek about extra-label use. Menus take users to the species, the drug and the disease condition being treated.

By the spring, veterinarians will be able to log requests for clinical pharmacology help with modifications to drug withdrawal periods, when veterinary approved drugs are used extra-label in food-producing animals. These requests will help the service collect critical extra-label drug usage information, provide vital data to stakeholders, and help identify needs and future research projects.

The CgFARAD service is run by co-directors Dr. Patricia Dowling at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Saskatchewan and Dr. Ron Johnson at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, and Dr. Saad Enouri, the CgFARAD staff veterinarian.

Funding for the re-tooled database was provided by a federal Growing Forward 2 grant procured by the Livestock Research Innovation Corporation, along with leveraged financial support from CgFARAD stakeholders.

“This grant also allowed us to add state-of-the-art tissue culture facilities to the new CgFARAD food safety laboratory at Guelph,” says Johnson. “That’s enabling us to broaden our research program to consider the effects of factors such as drug interactions, disease, genetics and nutrition on drugs used in food-producing animals.”

He and Dowling demonstrated the site last month to attendees from the livestock and veterinary sector, from their respective institutions in a coordinated live demonstration. With Johnson hosting the ceremony at Guelph, Dowling remotely walked attendees through the site and showed them what happened when a request for information is received.

Live demos, let alone from remote locales, can be fraught with technological risk. But this one came off without a hitch, promoting confidence among the participants that the system will similarly work with the 2,100-plus requests its now processing annually.

CgFARAD, which has been in effect since 2002, has amassed information from more than 22,000 queries, which arrive at a rate of four to six per day from across the country.

Requests are up by more than 500 requests in two years, as the service gets better known and extra-label use continues to become the industry norm. Ontario veterinarians account for the lion’s share of the requests, most of which concern extra-label use for poultry.

CgFARAD continues to increase its research program. Since 2011-12, it’s been engaged in seven externally funded research projects focused on extra-label drug usage across several food animal species, as well as serving in an advisory capacity.

Among the projects were studies evaluating the depletion of the rodenticide anti-coagulant bromadiolone in hogs, the anti-inflammatory agent phenylbutazone in horses, the antiparasticide fenebndazole in turkeys, as well as a study of the risks of violative milk residues following topical tetracycline therapy for digital dermatitis in dairy cattle. In total, these research projects were funded for more than $500,000.

 

Owen Roberts

Owen Roberts directs research communications and teaches at the University of Guelph, and is president of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists. You can find him on Twitter as @theurbancowboy

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