15 May 2000
Feed antibiotic to escape ban

By Alistair Driver

FEARS that one of the few antibiotic growth promoters still available to pig and poultry producers is going to be banned appear to have been quashed.

Elanco Animal Healths growth promoter Maxus (avilamycin) was thought to face an EU-wide ban due to its similarity to a drug being developed for human use by Schering Plough.

In June 1998, four AGPs were banned in the EU because of fears that their use in animals could result in humans becoming resistant to related drugs prescribed by doctors.

Maxus, one of four AGPs still available, was widely expected to be the next to go.

But Schering has announced it is discontinuing clinical development of Ziracin (evernimicin), an intravenous antibiotic.

Results from clinical studies showed “that the balance between efficacy and safety did not justify further development of the product”.

“This would appear to let Elanco off the hook re avilamycin,” said Richard Young, of the Soil Association, which has been a vigorous campaigner against the use of AGPs in farm animals.

But Mr Young warned the intensive poultry industry not to start celebrating just yet.

He said a study in Denmark has found that avilamycin could be linked to resistance in humans to the antibiotic vancomycin.

“The drug should not be used again until further research into its continuing use as a growth-promoting antibiotic has been completed and carefully evaluated,” he said.

Elanco claims that two studies in Denmark prove there are no avilamycin-resistant organisms in man.