JUST IN: National Drug Authority Speaks out on Use of ARV’s to Feed Pigs, Chicken

By Our Reporter




The National Drug Authority (NDA) has come out to clarify on recent media reports regarding contamination of animal products and feeds with ARVs.

NDA statement on use of ARVs to feed animals

ARVs are antiretroviral drugs used to treat patients who are HIV positive. Whereas the ARVs do not kill the virus, they block different stages of the virus’s life cycle. By doing so, the virus is unable to replicate and make copies of itself.


In a press statement released early today, 7th September, 2023, NDA is responding to recent media reports that NDA was aware of contamination of animal feeds with ARVs but that it didn’t make it public for fear of impacting on Uganda’s economic earnings from animal exports abroad.


As a disclaimer, NDA says it is mandate is to regulate drugs and not food or animal feeds.


However, since the reports included misuse of drugs (ARVs), it picked interest and carried out investigations especially into the use of ARVs to feed pigs and chicken.


While conceding that their investigations confirmed the use of ARVs, it says the levels of contamination are too low to cause unnecessary public alarm.


“NDA conducted investigations and a scientific review and determined that the reported levels were very low to cause unnecessary public alarm,” the statement signed by the Secretary NDA.


NDA also reports that the Authority has gone ahead to conduct operations against the source of ARVs and other drugs being used to feed animals.


“These ongoing operations have led to several arrests and prosecution of culprits,” says the statement.



ARVs use were reported among broiler farmers around Kampala, and in pig and broiler farms in Wakiso district. The main drivers were lack of good quality feeds as well as efficient vaccines against Newcastle disease virus in chicken and African swine fever in pigs.



Background and Aim: Since 2015, local newspapers reported that pig and poultry farmers in Uganda use antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) to promote growth in animals and control diseases.


This study was conducted to assess farmers’ knowledge, attitude and perceptions about the use of antiretroviral drugs as boosters in pigs and poultry and the possibility of detecting the antiretroviral drugs in meat using available laboratory methods.


Materials and Methods: In 2019, a cross-sectional study was conducted in ten districts in Uganda. In 20 focus group discussions with 100 pig and poultry farmers and 70 animal health service providers, we assessed the use of ARV in livestock enterprises. Subsequently, samples of chicken, pigs, and animal feeds were collected from volunteer participants, and screened for residues of saquinavir, lopinavir, nevirapine, and efavirenz using liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrophotometer.


Results: Participants in all ten districts were predominantly smallholder farmers supplying the local markets. All groups reported the use of ARVs in pigs and broiler birds but not in layer hens. In the absence of good quality feeds, the motivation for feeding ARVs was rapid animal weight gain, as well as the control of animal diseases, for which farmers have no alternative solutions.


ARVs were obtained within the community for free, against cash, or in-kind payment. Residues of lopinavir were detected in four, and saquinavir in seven districts, and all three sample matrices. Conclusion: Our study findings confirm anecdotal news reports on ARV use in livestock. While our findings are not generalizable to the whole country, they call for a representative follow-up. As the drugs were detected in tissues destined for human consumption, the potential risk to human health warrants further investigation.


Back to top button
Verified by MonsterInsights