The potential to introduce products into the animal health industry used to be a rapid and fairly simple procedure. This made entry attractive and could be viewed as a ‘bonus' to human sales. This is no longer the case. For the last decade, at least, there have been few major product launches into this market.

Non-nutritional feed additives

In the USA and some other developed countries, it is public perception sometimes inaccurate and poultry company policy that have driven many of the changes.

The recent withdrawal edict by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of fluoroquinolones was preceded by statements by key industry leaders that they would cease to use them. This was often driven by their customers, such as the fast-food industry, and not always based on science or complete understanding of how the products were being used. In the case of roxarsone, certain industry leaders, again, stopped using it due to public pressure. This withdrawal can bring problems of deteriorating bird performance.

It is clear that the industry must have access to key compounds and ensure that they are correctly used according to local regulations. This will ensure not only the health of the flocks but also public food safety.

In the European Union, dramatic legislation has reduced the use of these products. The jury is still out as to the final positive and negative aspects of these decisions. This relates to food safety issues as well as flock health.

In the global market, it is important to ensure that as many of these compounds are available as possible to ensure the growth and competitive status of the local industries.

However it must be stated, frankly, that this somewhat opaque situation does not encourage the large pharmaceutical companies (so-called ‘Big Pharma') into attempting major product launches into the sector.

Anticoccidials

Although hardly any major new products have launched for many years, this class of drug is still critical to the well-being of the poultry industry. Their use in breeder birds is virtually 100%. In broilers, the percentages are also very high, except for certain market niches.

Coccidiosis will not vanish and we must take care to oppose any legislation against the use of anticoccidials. They are safe and well proved over the years.

It is also important to protect the integrity of these drugs by judicious rotation, correct dosage and the use of vaccines, techniques that preserve sensitivity.

Anticoccidials were also generally launched by major pharmaceutical companies, including Elanco (Eli Lilly), Roche, Pfizer, Cyanamid, Hoechst and Dow. Apart from Elanco, many of the major anticoccidials have been spun off to specialist companies as described in the section on feed additives. The reasons include profit margins and protection of patents. The companies who continue to market them have always provided excellent technical services in the field to ensure integrity. It is important to ensure sensitivity and performance.

As I discussed in the preceding part of this article published last month covering biologicals, the continued use of pharmaceuticals is important to poultry producers. The products are well regulated and are being used in a responsible manner. Let us ensure we have a continued scientific review under field conditions.

Finally, despite all the changes in this industry, the pharmaceutical industry continues to perform a vital role in supporting the production of first-class food products required by more than six billion people on this planet.