August 1, 2005
Baytril antibiotic, used in chickens and turkeys, causes resistant bacteria to emerge
The Food & Drug Administration has banned the use of the antibiotic Baytril in poultry because it causes resistance to emerge in Campylobacter bacteria. Campylobacter in poultry is one of the most common causes of severe bacterial food poisoning in humans.
Baytril, a fluoroquinolone known generically as enrofloxacin, is the first veterinary drug to be banned because it leads to the emergence of resistant bacteria. It is chemically similar to the antibiotic Cipro, which is widely prescribed to treat food-borne illness in people. Use of Baytril in poultry, FDA says, reduces the effectiveness of Cipro in treating Campylobacter in humans. Baytril’s manufacturer, Bayer, has 60 days to appeal FDA’s decision.
Most of the Baytril given to chickens and turkeys is used for therapeutic, not growth promotion, purposes. When a respiratory infection shows up in a few birds in a flock, for example, Baytril is commonly given to the entire flock.

“This is a precedent-setting decision,” says Margaret Mellon, director of the Food & Environment Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “My expectation is that FDA will follow up by taking steps to cancel some of the nontherapeutic uses of human-use antibiotics in agriculture.”
“We applaud Commissioner [Lester M.] Crawford and the FDA for acting decisively to protect the public’s health,” says David Wallinga, a senior scientist and director of the Antibiotic Resistance Project at the Institute for Agriculture & Trade Policy. “Cipro is an essential antibiotic, and we cannot allow its effectiveness to be compromised by squandering it on poultry.”
“The loss of this product leaves poultry producers without an important tool to treat sick poultry, and it will reduce animal health and welfare while increasing animal death and suffering,” says a statement from the Animal Health Institute, which represents the manufacturers of animal health products.
Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
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