Arnaud Anty from Sogeval, which earlier this year acquired Alstoe Ltd, explains why paracetamol deserves a more prominent position in pig unit medicine cabinets
Paracetamol is often the first response for treating many conditions in human medicine, making it one of the most frequently used drugs worldwide. Conversely, in intensive animal farming antibiotics are most likely to be the initial line of treatment. Paracetamol is a first-line symptomatic treatment and deserves a prominent place for rapid response in a farm’s medical armoury as it works for every condition associated with fever.
Paracetamol is the most widespread drug in any home medicine cabinet. In fact, in France it represents 15% of the total volume of medicine sold, and is recommended alongside ibuprofen when facing the flu. Its safety profile allows for use during human pregnancy, one of the few drugs with this indication.
A recent study has shown that paracetamol could be used as an alternative to antibiotics during flu epidemics. Major pork producing countries including Germany, the Netherlands, France, Italy, Poland, Spain and Denmark use paracetamol as a first-time treatment in respiratory disease before a decision is taken regarding antibiotic usage.
Pressure is increasing from groups like the Responsible Use of Medicines Alliance to lower the level of antibiotic use, and the recent UK Government’s Antimicrobial Strategy 2013-2018 publication also advises the implementation of adjunctive therapies.
Fever is generally the first symptom to appear in a wide variety of diseases or following everyday stress factors like farrowing or vaccinationg. When body temperatures rise to more than 40C, there are profound effects on a pig’s performance, immunity and wellbeing.
Although rarely measured for practical reasons, fever is commonly present and will always come with a drop in the animal’s general health status and a decrease in feed consumption. High fever impairs the immune system and predisposes the animal to other germs. Thus fever has a direct and unwelcome economic cost.
Usually the cause of disease is unknown at the point treatment is started. In respiratory disease syndromes such as influenza, fever is always present. The temperature of animals treated with Sogeval’s paracetamol product Pracetam decreases within 12 hours after the start of treatment. As a consequence, the feed intake starts to recover from the first day of treatment.
Pracetam has also been shown to minimise weight gain loss and reduce associated clinical signs. It’s authorised for mass medication in fattening pigs as well as pregnant, lactating or farrowing sows.
The use of paracetamol prior to any other action in farm respiratory disease outbreaks is becoming more frequent. In the context of reducing antibiotic usage, paracetamol presents a great opportunity to adopt a new, more-sustainable approach. It will not replace antibiotics, where they are needed, but it will enhance symptomatic treatment before automatic use of antibiotics on forward-thinking farms.
With a minimal withholding period, safety proved up to 12 times the dose,and the ability to use during pregnancy, farrowing and lactation, paracetamol deserves a prominent place as a first-line treatment in the farm medicine cabinet.
Pracetam is available as a soluble powder and a concentrated solution both with a zero-withdrawal period that doesn’t preclude use in pigs close to finishing.
A premix is also available with a one-day withdrawal period, extending the spectrum of delivery systems. The cost/pig of Pracetam is lower than using injectable non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and is on a par with aspirin.
Pracetram is available through veterinary prescription from all UK practises.