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Special Legislative Alert: "MUMS": Minor Use and Minor Species Animal Health Act Can Improve Health and Welfare of Ferrets

May 24, 2004


Minor Use and Minor Species Animal Health Act
[House Bill HR 2079]

Currently there are no drugs approved for use in ferrets. Ferrets may legally receive drugs that are approved for other animals or for humans through FDA provisions called “extralabel” use. However, for most drugs used “extralabel” no information is available regarding the best dosage, how ferrets process the drug, adverse events, or the response rates in ferrets.

The Minor Use and Minor Species Animal Health Act (“MUMS”) defines ferrets as a “minor” species. Major species include dogs, cats, and many farm animals, such as horses, cattle, turkeys and swine, which have very large populations of animals in the US, making their medical conditions profitable indications for pharmaceutical companies to market their drugs. Indications that are considered uncommon, or rare, are considered to be “minor” uses. But minor species encompass thousands of animal species, including ferrets, fish, sheep, all wild animals. Minor uses are drug indications for animal diseases that occur infrequently or in limited geographic areas in all animals.

Passage of MUMS would benefit ferrets:

  • Defines ferrets as a “minor” species.
  • Should increase the availability of drugs for ferrets.
  • Makes drug development easier for drugs designated for minor species.
  • Could benefit both domestic ferrets and the endangered wild black-footed ferret.
  • Should stimulate drug testing in ferrets which will increase the amount of information on drug use in ferrets – including more information on the correct dosage, pharmacology, adverse events, and expected response rates in ferrets.
  • Should improve the health and welfare of ferrets.
  • Permits FDA to give grants and contracts to public and private organizations and individuals to defray the cost of clinical testing of drugs for safety and efficacy and manufacturing expenses that occur during the development of designated new animal drugs.
  • Provides economic incentives for drugs sponsors, such as exclusive marketing rights and tax credits for clinical testing in minor species.
  • Supported by a coalition of 43 organizations, including the American Veterinary Medical Association, American Farm Bureau Federation, Animal Health Institute, American Pet Product Manufacturers Association, and others.

MUMS passed the US Senate by unanimous vote on March 8, 2004. The bill now needs to pass the House of Representatives. The AFA RECOMMENDS SUPPORTING THIS BILL.

To locate the address of your Representative go to


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