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Bayer Won't Pull Poultry Antibiotics
November 1st, 2001

Recent threats of bioterrorism have highlighted how important it is to safeguard the effectiveness of America's antibiotics supply. But when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently proposed a ban on the use of certain antibiotics to treat sick chickens and turkeys, Bayer Corporation refused to comply. Instead of removing the antibiotic, Baytril« from the market in response to the FDA's proposal, Bayer has chosen to ignore warnings by scientists and physicians alike that use of their drug in poultry poses a danger to human health. is being launched today to mobilize citizens across the country to tell Bayer to stop playing chicken with public health and to comply with the FDA's proposed ban.

The poultry drug in question, known as Baytril«, is very closely related to a drug used in human medicine, known as Cipro, which is also made by Bayer. Both Baytril« and Cipro are members of a class of antibiotics known as fluoroquinolones. Though Cipro is currently making headlines as a treatment for anthrax, it also plays a key role in treating many other diseases, including severe cases of bacterial food poisoning. FDA proposed the ban after concluding that use of Baytril« contributes to development of flouroquinolone resistance in certain bacteria that cause severe food poisoning.

"Given the importance of this class of antibiotics in human medicine, it just doesn't make sense to be using them in poultry -- especially since they are administered via drinking water so that the whole flock is dosed even if only a few birds are sick," said David Wallinga, M.D., of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. " allows citizens across the country to join in the campaign to stop Bayer from putting public health at risk."

Although Bayer has chosen to disregard concerns about antibiotic resistance, health officials are all too aware of this growing public health crisis. Keep Antibiotics Working: The Campaign to End Antibiotic Overuse, was formed to educate the public and policy makers about the need to curb antibiotic resistance. Today, the campaign launches both an activist site,, focused on Bayer, as well as an informational site,, which covers a broader range of issues relating to inappropriate use of antibiotics in animal agriculture.

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