Earlier this week, Merck Animal Health announced its “Five Steps to Responsible Beef” in response to concerns over its beta agonist product Zilmax (zilpaterol hydrochloride). On Friday, the company took further steps, and announced it will temporarily suspend sales of the product during a study period. The company issued the following statement:
At Merck Animal Health, the health and well-being of animals is our first and foremost priority. We also take very seriously our commitment to providing safe, effective products that are developed based on comprehensive research, rigorous testing and sound science. We believe in the science that supports Zilmax and are confident in its safety and performance. Reinforcing this science and data-based approach, Merck Animal Health has announced it has strengthened its commitment to its Five-Step Approach to Ensuring Responsible Beef.
As previously announced, Merck Animal Health, in conjunction with independent experts, will conduct a scientific audit, which will monitor the process of feeding of Zilmax, and will follow identified cattle from the feedyard to the packing plant to determine potential causes of lameness and other mobility issues during feeding, transportation, offloading and staging at the processing facility. We also will do a thorough review of potential compounding factors-such as nutrition, transportation and receiving facilities.
After the five-step plan is completed, the results will be shared publicly."
In addition, we are also accelerating the development of our Merck Animal Health Advisory Board, which will bring together industry experts, producers, academics and company leadership to promote an open dialogue on animal well-being and help shape and strengthen the company's animal health and well-being program in the future.