The Food and Drug Administration announced yesterday that Zoetis will suspend sales of Nitarsone, the last arsenic-based drug used in food animal production, by the fall and that the company will request that the FDA withdraw the drug’s approval by the end of the year.
We are happy to see the end of the use of this arsenical drug in poultry production, but this action is long overdue.
In 2011, the FDA made a similar announcement about another arsenic-based drug, roxarsone, based on research conducted by the agency that revealed higher levels of inorganic arsenic in the livers of chickens fed the drug. A Freedom of Information Act request later revealed that the announcement was heavily influenced by the pharmaceutical company Pfizer (now known as Zoetis) to downplay the results of the study.
After the 2011 announcement that roxarsone would no longer be sold in the U.S., it took the FDA until 2014 to formally withdraw the approvals for roxarsone and two other arsenic-based drugs. We urge the FDA to act as quickly as possible to withdraw the approval for Nitarsone to completely end the use of arsenic-based drugs in animal agriculture.
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