The blog of Xeno, a slightly mad scientist
… The U.S. FDA has announced that Pfizer will stop the sale of the animal drug 3-Nitro. The drug is used in chicken feed, but an agency analysis detected inorganic arsenic in the livers of chickens treated with the drug.
3-Nitro is used to help control coccidiosis, a parasitic disease that affects the intestinal tracts of animals, and also so that the chickens will gain more weight.
The Wall Street Journal reports:
“The agency said it recently conducted a study of 100 broiler chickens that detected inorganic arsenic at higher levels in the livers of chickens treated with 3-Nitro compared with untreated chickens … Pfizer said sale of 3-Nitro would be stopped by early July in order to allow animal producers to transition to other treatments.” For some of you, this may be the first time you’re hearing about Roxarsone, but it has been used in chicken feed since the 1940s. More than 70 years later, the FDA conducted an analysis that found chickens treated with the drug do in fact have arsenic in their livers – and as a result manufacturer Pfizer will be stopping sale of the drug (brand name 3-Nitro) early this month.
What is this? The FDA conducts studies? That’s news to me. I thought they only look at the results of studies companies commission.
More info from the FDA web site:
When were these animal drugs approved?
FDA approved the use of products containing arsenic many years ago. The first approval for 3-Nitro® (Roxarsone), NADA 005-414, was on March 21, 1944. There have been several subsequent approvals for 3-Nitro® (Roxarsone) for combination use, the most recent being 2009.
What are arsenic-based animal drugs used for?
Animal drugs containing arsenic are approved for use in animal feeds for chickens, turkeys, and pigs (most common use is in broiler chickens). In poultry, they are approved for growth promotion, feed efficiency and improved pigmentation; they are also approved in combination with other drugs to prevent coccidiosis.
How could FDA approve arsenic as safe for consumption in an animal intended for food?
The scientific understanding at the time of approval was that the organic arsenic in 3-Nitro® (Roxarsone) would be excreted as organic arsenic, which is not known to be a carcinogen. Until recently, scientific evidence indicated that animals exposed to organic arsenic rapidly excrete the compound in its original form–as organic arsenic. FDA approved the product at doses and withdrawal times that, based on this available information, allowed for the safe and effective use of the product when used according to the label directions.
The use of Roxarsone is needed to kill parasites that would otherwise kill the chickens raised in horrid factory farm conditions. Poultry farmers can either take better care of their animals or use more vaccines, other drugs, etc.
If you read the study http://www.fda.gov/downloads/AnimalVeterinary/SafetyHealth/ProductSafetyInformation/UCM257545.pdf it says this was partly investigated due to lawsuits in the Midwest that contend arsenic in “litter” caused ill effects in humans.