stocker calves in a corral Alan Newport
Pain relief could pay dividends for stocker operators and feeders who castrate and dehorn cattle, plus a new product offers relief from foot rot.

New and old pain killers for cattle

FDA approves new drug, and we review research for extralabel nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug.

The US Food and Drug Administration this week announced approval of Banamine Transdermal (flunixin transdermal solution), a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug for the control of pain associated with foot rot and the control of pyrexia (fever) associated with bovine respiratory disease in cattle. 

Banamine Transdermal is the first new animal drug approved in the US for controlling pain in a food-producing animal. There was no approved drug to control the pain associated with foot rot until now. Banamine Transdermal is also approved for the control of pyrexia (fever) associated with bovine respiratory disease in cattle.

The topical formulation of Banamine Transdermal provides a new way to administer flunixin to cattle. Banamine Transdermal is approved for a single application of a dose of 3.3 mg flunixin per kilogram body weight topically in a narrow strip along the back.

This non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication is approved for use in steers, beef heifers, beef cows, beef bulls intended for slaughter and replacement dairy heifers under 20 months of age. It is not for use in beef bulls intended for breeding; dairy bulls; female dairy cattle 20 months of age or older (including dry dairy cows); and suckling beef calves, dairy calves, and veal calves.

This is a prescription medication and can only be used by or on the order of a licensed veterinarian. The application for Banamine Transdermal is sponsored by Intervet, Inc.

Although this is the first FDA-approved painkiller, another has been used successfully as extralabel pain relief for cattle. Beef Producer covered this use and the possible financial rewards of meloxicam in a 2014 story.

Research at Kansas State University showed oral administration of the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug meloxicam, given at 1 milligram per kilogram of body weight, reduces the incidence of bovine respiratory disease (BRD) after castration and increases the rate of weight gain after dehorning. In K-State studies on castration, researchers found bull calves receiving meloxicam prior to castration were almost 50% less likely to develop BRD than placebo-treated controls.

In December 2015, a Canadian animal health company named Solvet launched Meloxicam Oral Suspension.

This page from the University of Nebraska explains the tools needed and administration of meloxicam to cattle.

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