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Investigation
Zoetis and its antibiotics for growth in India

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By Ben Stockton, Madlen Davies, Rahul Meesaraganda

The world’s biggest animal drugs company has been accused of double standards and of exposing consumers in India to ‘higher levels of risk’ by selling antibiotics for purposes now banned in Europe and the USA.

Zoetis, the largest producer of veterinary medicines, was found supplying farmers in India with antibiotics to help their animals grow faster in an investigation carried out by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIJ).

There is international consensus that this practice should be banned in an attempt to stem the rising threat of antimicrobial resistance. The World Health Organization (WHO), the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) have all called for a worldwide ban on the use of antibiotics to make livestock grow faster. The practice was banned in the EU in 2006 and last year in the USA.

After the ban came into force in the USA, Zoetis stopped advertising antibiotics as growth promoters to American farmers. It has also publicly supported these new US laws as part of its ‘continued commitment to antibiotic stewardship’.

However bureau staff found the company selling antibiotics directly to farmers in India, where regulation and enforcement is more lax.

In veterinary drug stores in Hyderabad, the bureau found a number of antibiotics manufactured by Zoetis that are used for growth promotion being sold over the counter without a prescription.

A bureau reporter, posing as a veterinary drug store owner, also spoke to a member of Zoetis’ Indian sales team who said it typically sold these antibiotics directly to farmers.

The company’s Indian website claims the antibiotics will make animals grow bigger and faster.

Zoetis says it complies with the …

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