HC Deb 11 June 1997 vol 295 c481W
Mr. Flynn

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the human health risks posed by the use of ivermectin in the treatment of farmed fish; and if he will make a statement. [2103]

Mr. Rooker

I have been asked to reply.

We are not aware that any assessments of the human health risks posed by the use of ivermectin specifically in the treatment of farmed fish have been made.

Ivermectin is authorised in the EU for use in bovines, pigs, sheep and horses following thorough assessments of all required safety data by the Committee of Veterinary Medicinal Products (CVMP) in order to set a maximum residue limit (MRL). The purpose of MRLs is to ensure that no consumer, however extreme their diet, is at risk from the consumption of animal products containing residues at or above the level of the MRL.

However, an MRL has not been fixed for ivermectin in fish and there is no product authorised for such treatment. Nonetheless, ivermectin could be used to treat farmed fish under the prescribing cascade. Under this system, veterinarians may use their clinical judgment to prevent an animal from suffering by prescribing a veterinary medicine authorised in the UK for use in another species, a medicine authorised for human use or one made up "one-off'.

The Veterinary Medicines Directorate tests for ivermectin in salmon under its non-statutory residues surveillance scheme. As no Maximum Residue Limit has been set for ivermectin in farmed fish, the Limit of Quantification, or LOQ (the point at which we can detect a measurable level of residues) is used as the Action Level for the purposes of reporting results in the quarterly Medicines Act Veterinary Information Service (MAVIS) and following-up with retailers and producers. The LOQ of the method used is 2 µg/kg. None of the 415 salmon samples collected under the 1996 non-statutory programme contained quantifiable residues of ivermectin.

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