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March 10, 2004   Email to Friend 

Debra Davis
(334) 613-4686
March 10, 2004

The U.S. Senate Monday night passed legislation sponsored by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) that would make it easier for animal pharmaceutical manufacturers to invest in product development and obtain marketing approval from the Food and Drug Administration of drugs for use in minor animal species such as catfish, pets, sheep and goats, game birds, and other ornamental fish. The Minor Use Minor Species (or MUMS) legislation would provide incentives for drug manufacturers to develop and gain approval of minor drugs used for minor species.

According to Sen. Sessions, currently it is not economically feasible for drug companies to pursue research, development and approval for drugs used in treating minor species because of limited market opportunity, low profit margins, and the enormous capital investment required.

"This lack of treatment results in unnecessary pain, suffering, and emotional stress for pets and pet owners," Sessions said. "It also results in financial stress for livestock producers who lose animals worth millions of dollars annually, making producers less competitive than their foreign counterparts."

Butch Wilson, chairman of the Alabama Farmers Federation's Catfish State Committee, said this is especially true for the catfish industry, including Alabama, which had $76 million in sales last year. Alabama is the second largest producer of catfish in the U.S., said Wilson who has a catfish farm is located in Dallas County.

The catfish industry currently has only six drugs approved for use, and fish disease is the leading cause of mortality in commercial catfish production, Wilson said.

"MUMS creates incentives for animal drug manufacturers to invest in product development and obtain FDA drug marketing authorization, and creates mechanisms to alleviate the shortage of approved drugs while maintaining and ensuring protection of the public health and environment," Sen. Sessions said.

Sen. Session's bill is expected to be voted upon by the House of Representative's soon.

For additional information regarding Minor Use and Minor Species Animal Health Act, visit the website of the American Veterinarian Medical Association.

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