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Animal Doctor: Company responds to column on antibiotic resistance

Animal Doctor: Company responds to column on antibiotic resistance

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Dear Dr. Fox: We saw your column, “A Shameful Drug Company,” which ran in the Tulsa World on March 26 and other newspapers over the previous days.

We at Zoetis want you to know that we take the issue of antibiotic resistance very seriously and support the responsible use of antibiotic medicines in animals and in people. We recognize that animal and human health are interdependent and, therefore, advocate for taking a One Health approach to the responsible use of antibiotics across human and veterinary medicine. We believe that veterinary professionals should be involved in decisions about the use of antibiotic medicines in animals to protect animal and human health, to assure the safety of the food supply and to help reduce the risk of resistance.

We recognize that there are substantial differences in livestock production systems and degrees of food security in countries throughout the world and that an efficient food production system will be required to continue feeding a growing world population.

Each country enacts regulations appropriate for their market needs and standards, and we work with the national regulatory authorities in international countries, including India, to understand, respect and comply with local regulatory interpretation and oversight. We are committed to working with regulatory authorities, veterinary professionals and livestock producers in developing countries, such as India, to help advance the understanding and implementation of sustainable production systems and practices with a goal of raising healthy animals.

We understand that the Indian authorities are in the process of reviewing the laws that regulate the use of antibiotics in medical feed additives to be given to animals. In parallel, Zoetis is currently reviewing our company’s medicated feed additive product regulatory claims. — Elinore White, senior director of corporate communications, Zoetis

Dear E.W.: Your response is appreciated. Having worked in India, I can attest to the difficulties that can arise due to corruption and disinformation and sympathize to a degree with your company’s progress there.

You state that your company “advocates a One Health approach to the responsible use of antibiotic medicines across human and veterinary medicine.” But in my professional opinion, you have failed to act responsibly because of the cross-species, farmed-animal-to-human risk of antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections, especially when the antibiotics are sold in high volume to put into farmed-animal feed to promote growth.

When I gave the keynote address in 1994 to the Indian Veterinary Academy, I was shown data at the Veterinary College in Hisar of increasing antibiotic resistance in calves because of the overuse of antibiotics. That was 25 years ago! Enough.

To readers: I must add that India is the second-largest exporter of beef in the world, and also exports many dairy products and other animal products for human consumption in the U.S., Europe and many other countries. This increases the risk of widespread dissemination of “superbugs” — bacteria from farmed animals resistant to most, if not all, antibiotics — that cause food poisoning with fatal organ failure.

Bears’ emotional awareness much like ours: Sun bears can exactly mimic each other’s facial expressions, according to research by Dr. Marina Davila-Ross and Ph.D. candidate Derry Taylor, both at the University of Portsmouth. These findings, published in Scientific Reports, “(cast) doubt on humans’ and other primates’ supremacy at this subtle form of communication,” reads a report on (For more, search the site for “facial mimicry.”)

The researchers found that “bears can use facial expressions to communicate with others in a similar way to humans and apes, strongly suggesting other mammals might also be masters of this complex social skill and, in addition, have a degree of social sensitivity,” said the report.

Dr. Davila-Ross said, “Mimicking the facial expressions of others in exact ways is one of the pillars of human communication,” adding that previously, only humans and great apes were “known to show such complexity in their facial mimicry.”

In certain countries, these intelligent bears are abused and exploited by being brutally declawed and defanged, then made to “dance” with a rope tied to a ring in their noses. These practices should be outlawed, and the bears living alone in captivity should be liberated into proper habitats to enjoy some quality of life — if not returned to the wild.

Send all mail to or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns.

Visit Dr. Fox’s website at


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