2016 December - Are your drug labels compliant

Are your drug labels compliant?

Surely every veterinary practice’s drug labels are the same??  Wrong!  But they should be.

Often during hospital inspections faults with the wording and usage of drug labels are seen.  The Board encourages veterinarians to check your current labels to ensure they are compliant with NSW Poisons and Therapeutics Goods Legislation.  Here is a refresher to help…

When a veterinary practitioner supplies a restricted substance (Schedule 4) or a drug of addiction (Schedule 8) to an animal owner, whether in the manufacturer's original pack or repacked into another container, the veterinary practitioner must label the primary container e.g. bottle or carton with the following details:

  • the words "KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN" in red on a white background
  • if the substance is intended for external use only the word "POISON" or the words “FOR EXTERNAL USE ONLY” in red on a white background
  • the approved name, strength and quantity of the substance and its proprietary name, unless it is a preparation compounded extemporaneously in accordance with the veterinary practitioner's own formula
  • adequate directions for use, which should be explicit as people tend to forget verbal directions
  • the name of the animal's owner (or client) and the species of animal (and patient’s name where applicable)
  • the name and address of the veterinary practitioner.


It is not necessary to repeat any details which are already included on the label of the dispensed product, such as the approved name and the product name, provided they are not obscured by the dispensing label.

All supplied containers must carry a label as described above, even if there are large numbers supplied and the labels are the same. It is not acceptable to label a carton with several unlabelled containers inside. The presence of the dispensing label on the container indicates that the product has been supplied by a veterinary practitioner.

It is also the veterinarian’s responsibility to ensure these labels are LEGIBLE – this is important for hand-written labels, but also computer generated ones.  Please ensure that your label printer ink hasn’t become so low that it makes the labels hard to read.

NSW Health’s GUIDE TO POISONS AND THERAPEUTIC GOODS LEGISLATION FOR VETERINARY PRACTITIONERS is an easy to read and relevant article that outlines everything you need to know.