Cornucopia’s Take: Consumers are increasingly aware of the effects of eating meat dosed with high levels of antibiotics and the impact of the practice on antibiotic resistance. Because of the stresses from crowding on factory farms, antibiotics are used for disease control. Big Pharma is now developing vaccines for conventional livestock, which would enable companies to sell antibiotic-free meat. But it likely won’t end antibiotic use and may raise other issues.
Why Big Pharma Wants to Switch Billions of Farm Animals to Vaccines From Antibiotics
by Jared S. Hopkins
A sparkling and sprawling 48,000-square-foot two-story structure, decorated with artwork of animals etched onto interior glass walls, recently opened its doors 23 miles outside Indianapolis with one sole purpose: to keep the globe’s 70 billion farm animals healthy.
That increasingly means less reliance on antibiotics for animals. So the new research center, built and operated by Elanco LLC, a unit Eli Lilly & Co., is focused exclusively on developing vaccines as alternatives. It’s all part of a broader effort by the drug industry to join forces with the medical establishment to reduce use of antibiotics, as resistant superbugs become more prevalent in hospitals, nursing homes and other public spaces. Weaning animals from antibiotics in favor of vaccines has become central to that effort. Farm animals are fed about 80 percent of the antibiotics in the U.S., which make their way into the human body.
“We see a world where there is less need for shared-use antibiotics,” said Elanco President Jeff Simmons. “There are going to be more alternatives than ever before.”