AVMA advocates limited prohibition on phenylbutazone use

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If the Food and Drug Administration's Center for Veterinary Medicine proposes a total prohibition on the extralabel use of phenylbutazone in food animals, the AVMA will instead advocate limited prohibition on such use, consistent with protection of the food supply and public health.

The Executive Board in April approved this position, as recommended by the AVMA Council on Biologic and Therapeutic Agents.

Last year, the Department of Agriculture and the FDA collaborated in the development and field testing of new screening and confirmatory assays for phenylbutazone. The agencies found residues in market (cull) cows. No tolerance for the drug exists in food animal species, so any residue is considered illegal.

If the USDA were to continue to detect phenylbutazone residues at slaughter and the FDA were then to decide to add the drug to the prohibited list, the council believes any such prohibition should be partial, focused on classes of animals in which the drug may pose a public health risk.

However, the council does not believe that a prohibition should apply to classes of animals that derive superior pain relief from phenylbutazone and whose treatment does not pose a public health risk.