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FDA could ban drug used to treat pigs over cancer risks for humans

In the event of the drug's removal, farmers would need to resort to antibiotics intended for human use.
FDA could ban drug used to treat pigs over cancer risks for humans
Posted at 12:54 PM, Nov 08, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-08 14:55:05-05

A drug commonly used by American farms to treat pigs faces potential removal from the market.

The Food and Drug Administration issued a “final order to revoke” carbadox from the market due to concerns about its potential cancer risk in humans who consume pork products from animals treated with the drug.

The FDA warned that pork tainted with "carcinogenic residues" from the drug may end up in products like hot dogs and lunchmeat. 

Carbadox has been a component of pig feed since the 1970s to combat infections, diarrhea and weight gain. In 2016, the FDA started its efforts to remove this drug from the market due to the manufacturer's failure to provide adequate scientific evidence to prove its safety.

“Because the FDA first made public its concern regarding the adequacy of the 1998-approved method with regard to carbadox in 2016, the swine industry has had the opportunity to consider and mitigate potential impacts of this action for several years,” the FDA said in a statement. “If approvals of the applications for carbadox are ultimately withdrawn, carbadox will no longer be available for use by the swine industry.”

However, the FDA emphasized that it is not advising people to change their food choices as it works to remove the drug.

In a response to the FDA, the drug's manufacturer, Phibro Animal Health Corporation, said its drug is safe to use.

“Today’s steps are the latest in a long history of attempted measures taken by the FDA relating to carbadox that we do not believe are based on solid science,” the company said in a press release. “Phibro is extremely disappointed in the actions taken by the FDA and believes fully in the safety of Mecadox. Mecadox (carbadox) has been approved and sold in the United States for more than 50 years and is a widely used treatment for controlling bacterial diseases in swine, including Salmonella and swine dysentery, resulting in improved health and welfare for newly born and young pigs.”

In the event of the drug's removal, farmers would need to resort to antibiotics intended for human use, but Phibro has a chance to convince the FDA not to revoke carbadox by requesting a hearing by Dec. 7.  

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