13 August 2001 22:15 [Source: ICIS news]
TORONTO (CNI)--Canada's federal health agency confirmed Monday it has halted sales of the swine antibiotic Mecadox (carbadox) and said a formal ban on sales of the drug will be issued "within months."
A spokesman for Health Canada, the federal government's ministry of health, said Monday the action against Mecadox was taken because of concerns about misapplication of the drug, occupational risks to farm workers, other environmental issues and because Health Canada inquiries to the drug's manufacturers have not been answered to the satisfaction of Health Canada officials.
Mecadox, a feed-based antibiotic, is manufactured by Philbro Animal Health, a subsidiary of Fort Lee, New Jersey-based Philipp Brothers Chemicals (PBC). Officials at PBC were not immediately available Monday to comment on the Canadian action.
Ryan Baker, spokesman for Health Canada, said that the order followed a review process started in April when Health Canada was notified of incidents of misuse of Mecadox. He said: "At this point, the sale of Mecadox cannot be justified in light of its potential for misuse and unintentional contamination of other products."
Baker said that in one incident in Quebec last year, pigs were fed Mecadox and slaughtered without respecting the 35-day withdrawal period. The 35-day waiting period is required in order to ensure that breakdown products of the drug are not retained in food products.
He added: "Also, workers handling Mecadox are exposed to an occupational risk, there is the possibility of cross-contamination of other animal feed, and there is an environmental risk."
Baker said Philbro was given the opportunity to respond to concerns raised about Mecadox, but "as it stands, the answers we have received are not satisfactory, which is why we decided to issue an order to stop the sale of the product."
The regulatory process will continue and could end "in a few months" with a formal regulation banning the sale of Mecadox in Canada, Baker added.
Baker declined to comment on reports that Philbro is bringing legal action against Health Canada under terms of the North-America Free Trade Agreement (Nafta).
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