Government plans to ban use of weight gain antibiotics in chicken in line with international practices

Contributed by Dr Ashwini Tayade, Dr Veeren Ganta

The government is proposing a ban on the use drugs like colistin, an antibiotic widely used in the meat and poultry industry to make animals grow faster. The availability of colistin in India's drugstores without medical prescription has been a matter of concern. Growth-promoting antibiotics, including colistin from international and domestic pharmaceutical companies, are widely available to Indian farmers.

The move follows a decision of the Drugs Technical Advisory Board, at a meeting on November 29 to ban the use of colistin, in animals. A host of government agencies including the department of animal husbandry, dairying and fisheries, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, Ministry of agriculture and farmers' welfare, Ministry of health and family welfare and the drug controller general of India has examined this matter and recommended a colistin ban. World Health Organization has asked member states to restrict the use of antibiotics critically important to human medicine in animals. The European Union banned colistin in 2006, while Malaysia and China did so in 2018.