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Scientists create cattle wonder drug

Norbrook Laboratories has unveiled a new medicine it claims could revolutionise cattle farming across the world.

The Newry-based company said it had developed a treatment to eliminate parasites such as fluke and worms following a six year research project costing £3.5m and involving 80 scientists.

Fluke alone is estimated to cost UK farmers around £17m a year by reducing the weight of beef cattle and the milk yields of dairy cows.

Norbrook’s chief vet Alistair Couper said the company’s Closamectin Pour-on products were the ‘Holy Grail' of veterinary medicine. Currently fluke is treated by injection and scientists had previously struggled to develop a pour-on solution to deal with parasites, he said.

“It was a highly complex challenge for our research team. They had to develop a product which would treat different conditions simultaneously and have a molecular structure which could be absorbed straight through the skin. This is a ground breaking achievement and a brilliant piece of science.”

Chairman of Norbrook Laboratories Lord Ballyedmond said: “We have invested heavily in research and development and the results are there for all to see. We are delighted to have beaten other multinationals.

“We have now developed the world’s most effective remedy for parasite control in cattle that are entering the food chain.

“I am pleased to state that our business has grown this year indigenously at 12% despite the recession, beating our competitors.

“This tremendous breakthrough is a great testimony to the brilliance of our scientists in Newry and also to our policy of investing in research.”

Norbrook has been awarded licences for Closamectin Pour-on in the UK and Ireland and has plans to roll out the product in other countries. The global market for parasitic medicines for cattle is estimated at around $1bn.

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster congratulated Norbrook Laboratories on its new product, which Invest NI contributed £210,000 to for research and development.

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