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APVMA proposes to cancel growth promotant uses of the antibiotic, Virginiamycin

1 April 2003 Media Release no. 03/4

The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA), the national regulator of agricultural and veterinary chemicals, has released for public comment a draft report of its review of the uses of the antibiotic, virginiamycin. It is used in the treatment of animal diseases and as a growth promotant in food animals.

According to APVMA principal scientist, Dr Tim Dyke, the review was undertaken because of concerns about the continuous use of virginiamycin in food-producing animals, raised in the report of the Joint Expert Technical Advisory Committee on Antibiotic Resistance (JETACAR).

'The draft review report recommends the cancellation of all uses of virginiamycin as a growth promotant', Dr Dyke said.

Dr Dyke said that this recommendation was made in the interests of human health.

'Since a related antibiotic is now being used in human medicine we wish to avoid any likelihood of antibiotic resistance developing and affecting people,' he said. 'Canceling its use as a growth promotant in animals is the way to do this'.

'However the use of virginiamycin for the treatment of diseases in animals would still be permitted under veterinary prescription,' he said.

The draft report suggests than in future, product labels would be required to carry specific instructions on the duration of a course of treatment and the frequency of product use.

Dr Dyke said that as well as inviting public submissions to the review, the APVMA sought the expert scientific advice on public health issues from the National Health and Medical Research Council's Expert Advisory Group on Antimicorbial Resistance. Other external expert advice was obtained on the effectiveness of the antibiotic's various uses.

'Public comment is now being sought on the draft review report for virginiamycin. All comments received will be taken into consideration before final decisions are made,' Dr Dyke said.

The public consultation phase is open for a period of two months. All comments must be received by the APVMA by 23 May 2003.

Details of the review findings and proposed regulatory approach for products containing virginiamycin and their labels are contained in the report 'The Reconsideration of the Registration of Products Containing Virginiamycin and their Labels (draft review report), March 2003' which is available on the APVMA website at