Merck’s Zilmax® Rejoinder — To Tyson’s “Beef” — Bonus! A Most Likely Explanation/Analysis

First, let’s reiterate the basics (from Thursday past): this Tyson “Beef” development — in a small part of Merck’s Animal Health businesses — is not likely to be material to Merck, overall.

With that out of the way, we will link to a public radio report that likely explains the real reason for Tyson’s banning of Zilmax® in its purchased cattle as of August 1, 2013. [The implication is that certain large export markets — the EU and Japan, in particular — won’t accept any of Tyson’s beef treated with hormone-style growth enhancers — without regard to whether there is a specific complaint about Zilmax.] Here is Merck’s official response, in part:

. . . .The company that manufactures Zilmax, Merck Animal Health, issued a statement saying the product is safe.

“We are surprised by Tyson’s letter,” the statement said. “We are confident that, based on all of the available data on Zilmax, the experience reported by Tyson is not attributable to Zilmax.”

Zilmax, approved by the FDA for use in livestock, is a beta-agonist and acts as a steroid, turning fat into muscle. As the Chronicle of Higher Education reported in 2012, the drug can make meat tough and tasteless. But new reports have surfaced recently suggesting that cattle are growing so large — up to 1,300 pounds — that they can’t walk. . . .

Finally, recall that this is a legacy Schering-Plough/Intervet acquired product — thus the special interest in the story — here on this blog. All things ex-SP, is where this all began, of course. Enjoy your Monday!


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