Indian Health Ministry Bans Animal Food Industry from Using Colistin

India’s Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) banned the use of the antibiotic, colistin, in feed and supplements for animals and fish intended for human consumption.

In an attempt to preserve the drug’s efficacy in humans, the government has banned the sale, manufacture, and distribution of colistin and its formulations for use in food-producing animals, poultry, aquafarming, and animal feed supplements. The Drug Technical Advisory Board (DTAB), the government’s top advisory body on technical matters related to drugs in the country, considered the matter and recommended prohibiting the said drug, the notification stated.

“This drug is highly misused in the poultry industry as a growth promoter. One of the reasons for antimicrobial resistance in India is due to unwanted use of colistin in the poultry industry,” said S Eswara Reddy, Drugs Controller General of India, in a report.

Colistin (colistimethate sodium) has been used for more than five decades for humans and animals. In veterinary medicine, it is used to treat infections caused by Enterobacteriaceae. The antibiotic is used as a last-resort to saves lives in critical care units. However, over the past few years, the number of patients exhibiting resistance to the drug has increased rapidly. Medical professionals believe that this is because of the arbitrary use of colistin as a growth supplement to food-producing animals such as fish and poultry. Resistance to colistin in human pathogens is rare.

The ban has been imposed under provisions of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 and a notification in this regard has been issued by the Centre. According to the notification issued on Friday, the Centre was informed that using the drug and its formulations for food-producing animals, poultry, aquafarming, and animal feed supplements is likely to involve risk to human beings. The ministry has also directed the manufacturers of the drug and its formulations to contain a label on containers of the drug that says: “Not to be used in food-producing animals, poultry, aquafarming, and animal feed supplements: on the package, insert and promotional literature.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) considers colistin as a ‘highest priority critically important antimicrobial’ for humans and the move has been welcomed by India’s Centre for Science and Environment (CSE). Chandra Bhushan, deputy director-general, CSE, said the health ministry’s ban would help preserve this last-resort antibiotic for humans and save lives from deadly antibiotic-resistant infections. “It will go a long way in fighting antibiotic resistance,” he said.



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