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  1. Animal Health Literacy

What Does MUMS Mean?


MUMS aren’t just fall flowers.  MUMS also stands for Minor Use and Minor Species.

What are minor species?

  • All animals are minor species except horses, dogs, cats, cattle, pigs, turkeys, and chickens.  Those seven are major species.
  • Some minor species are important in farming like sheep, goats, catfish, gamebirds (like pheasants), llamas, bison, and honey bees.
  • Other minor species are zoo animals, ornamental fish (like bettas and koi), parrots, ferrets, guinea pigs, and other small pets.

What is a minor use?

  • Minor use refers to when drugs are used to treat one of the major species (horses, dogs, cats, cattle, pigs, turkeys and chickens) for a disease that is rare.
  • A disease can be rare because it occurs only in certain areas of the country, or because it affects only a small number of animals each year.

What did Congress do to help MUMS?

  • In 2004, Congress passed a law called the Minor Use and Minor Species Animal Health Act to help make more drugs available for minor uses and minor species. 
  • The law encourages drug companies to develop more drugs for diseases of minor species, like fish and honey bees, and for minor uses, like to treat pain in dogs with bone cancer.

Why is a law needed to help MUMS?

  • When a drug company wants to sell a drug, it needs to prove to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that the drug is safe and that it works (that it's effective).
  • It is very expensive for a drug company to develop an animal drug, get it approved by FDA, and on the market for sale. 
  • Drug companies often can’t afford to develop new drugs for minor uses or minor species because they won’t sell enough of the drug to pay for their expenses. For example, a company won’t sell a lot of drugs for pheasants because there aren’t a lot of pheasants raised on farms in the U.S.  On the other hand, billions of chickens are raised in the U.S. and a company can make a lot of money selling drugs for chickens.
  • So, Congress passed the Minor Use and Minor Species Animal Health Act to help make it less expensive for drug companies to get drugs approved for minor uses and minor species. 

What is FDA doing to help MUMS?

  • In the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, there is an Office of Minor Use and Minor Species Animal Drug Development (OMUMS for short) and an Office of New Animal Drug Evaluation (ONADE). Both offices help make sure safe and effective drugs are available for minor uses and minor species.
  • OMUMS manages grants and other ways to help drug companies afford to get drugs approved for minor uses and minor species. OMUMS also runs a program that makes it easier for drug companies to legally sell some drugs for minor species that are not eaten as food by people or other animals.
  • When a drug company sends FDA an application to get a drug approved for a minor use or a minor species, ONADE looks at the information in the application to make sure the drug is safe and effective. Even though the drug is for a smaller market, the standards for drug approval are the same as for a drug for a major species.
  • OMUMS and ONADE work with other federal agencies, such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and other groups, such as scientists at a university, to support studies of potential drugs for minor uses and minor species.

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