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US drug firms move to bar antibiotic use in livestock growth

Published on Mar 27, 2014 7:14 AM

CHICAGO (REUTERS) - US regulators on Wednesday said that 25 out of 26 drugmakers that sell antibiotics used in livestock feed for growth enhancement have agreed to follow new guidelines that will make it illegal to use their products to create beefier cattle, heftier hogs and other outsized animals.

The companies - which include Eli Lilly & Co's Elanco Animal Health unit, Bayer Healthcare animal health division and Zoetis - have agreed to start the process of removing any growth promotion claims on their products' labelling, according to the US Food and Drug Administration.

The FDA announced the guidelines in December, as part of an ongoing bid to stem a surge in human resistance to certain antibiotics. Although the guidelines are voluntary, agency officials have said they expect drugmakers to fully adhere and to narrow their products' use.

This labelling shift will ultimately mean that while farmers, ranchers and other agriculture groups can continue to use such drugs to treat sick animals, they will be banned from using them for promoting growth in livestock, according to regulators.

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