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CU commends Pfizer withdrawal of arsenic-containing animal drug

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June 8, 2011

CONSUMERS UNION COMMENDS PFIZER WITHDRAWAL OF ARSENIC-CONTAINING ANIMAL DRUG; SAYS FDA SHOULD BAN OTHER SIMILAR DRUGS 

 

Yonkers, NY–Consumers Union commends action taken by Pfizer, Inc. today to withdraw 3-Nitro, or Roxarsone, an arsenic-containing drug approved for pigs and poultry, used to kill parasites and promote growth. Pfizer acted in response to FDA testing that showed residues of inorganic arsenic in chicken liver. Organic arsenic, such as that used in Roxarsone, can be irreversibly converted to the carcinogenic, inorganic form of arsenic.

“Inorganic arsenic is cancer-causing and action on this drug is long overdue,” said Michael Hansen, Ph.D., a senior scientist with Consumers Union, nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports. Tests published by Consumer Reports in 2005 revealed that total arsenic was present in many chicken livers on the market, although arsenic was not detectable in organic livers.

The FDA reported today that in a study of 100 chickens, those that had been given the Roxarsone had higher levels of inorganic arsenic in their livers. FDA did not test other chicken parts, like breasts or legs.

“There are several other arsenic containing drugs for animals that are on the market and those should also be withdrawn or banned, as they have been in the European Union, ” Dr.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.”

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