Lipitor, Viagra, …roxarsone?  You’re probably familiar with at least the first two of these drugs manufactured by the pharmaceutical company Pfizer. If you’ve never heard of roxarsone, also known as 3-Nitro, that’s because it’s for chickens.

Roxarsone has been administered to poultry for decades.  It helps prevent intestinal parasites, but also happens to promote growth and give the chicken meat a nicer color.

It also contains arsenic – albeit, the organic form which is not as toxic as inorganic arsenic, a known carcinogen.  Problem is that in recent tests by the FDA, chickens fed roxarsone tested positive for the inorganic (read: carcinogenic) form of arsenic.

Pfizer has agreed to stop selling 3-Nitro within 30 days.

Said CU’s own Dr. Michael Hansen, senior scientist, in the New York Times:  “Inorganic arsenic is cancer-causing, and action on this drug is long overdue.”

In a press statement, CU commended the move by Pfizer, and Dr. Hansen also stated:

“There are several other arsenic containing drugs for animals that are on the market and those should also be withdrawn or banned, as they have been in the European Union, ” Dr. Hansen said. “Arsenic in chicken production poses a risk not only to human health, but to the environment. Arsenic can end up in the manure from chicken coops, and this is spread on agricultural land as fertilizer. Chicken coop floor waste is also routinely swept up and recycled as feed to cows on large-scale feedlots. We need to get arsenic out of food production altogether.”