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New immunity-booster from Elanco reduces dairy mastitis risk

First FDA-approved non-antibiotic Immunity-booster from Elanco reduces risks of dairy mastitis and related discarded milk.

John Vogel, Editor, American Agriculturist

May 2, 2016

2 Min Read

Human medicine has products touted to boost immune responses to diseases such as cancer. Now, the dairy industry has its first non-antibiotic product that boosts immune system response against mastitis. As Jeff Simmons, president of Elanco Animal Health, puts it: “This is a new technology door to help all sizes of dairies.”

Imrestor, the first of its kind modified bovine granulocyte protein called pegbovigrastim, has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. It’s labeled as a two-dose injectable for reducing incidence of clinical mastitis during the first 30 days of lactation – as a preventive, not a treatment.


It’s a protein that boosts the dairy cow’s natural immune system during the critical time around calving, when she’s most vulnerable, explains Dr. Paul Rapnicki, Elanco Animal Health technical advisor. It’s not specific to gram-negative or gram-positive bacteria.

How it works

As heifers and cows approach calving, the numbers of white blood cells (neutrophils) naturally decline 25% to 40% into the first week after calving. These are the cells that attack and suppress bacteria. Like a flu vaccine that protects against viruses, Imrestor spurs the mother’s immune response by increasing those neutrophils.

Efficacy studies conducted for FDA approval showed a 28% reduction in clinical mastitis incidence among cows and heifers receiving Imrestor compared to control animals. It’s a proactive approach “that can help keep cows healthy and help reduce the frustration, financial strain and stress associated with treating mastitis,” adds Rapnicki.

It has no effect on somatic cell counts, and no impact on estrus, components or milk production. Yet, it will decrease milk discarded due to mastitis.

The launch is aligned with Elanco’s eight-point antibiotic stewardship plan that reduces shared-class antibiotic use and replaces antibiotics with alternatives. Available in pre-filled, single-dose syringes, it’s administered with two injections – one about seven days before anticipated calving date; the other within 24 hours after calving. Imrestor is not labeled for treating cows with clinical mastitis.

It’s available only by veterinary prescription, and requires no meat or milk withdrawal period. It’s available in 10-, 50- and 100-dose packs.

About the Author(s)

John Vogel

Editor, American Agriculturist

For more than 38 years, John Vogel has been a Farm Progress editor writing for farmers from the Dakota prairies to the Eastern shores. Since 1985, he's been the editor of American Agriculturist – successor of three other Northeast magazines.

Raised on a grain and beef farm, he double-majored in Animal Science and Ag Journalism at Iowa State. His passion for helping farmers and farm management skills led to his family farm's first 209-bushel corn yield average in 1989.

John's personal and professional missions are an integral part of American Agriculturist's mission: To anticipate and explore tomorrow's farming needs and encourage positive change to keep family, profit and pride in farming.

John co-founded Pennsylvania Farm Link, a non-profit dedicated to helping young farmers start farming. It was responsible for creating three innovative state-supported low-interest loan programs and two "Farms for the Future" conferences.

His publications have received countless awards, including the 2000 Folio "Gold Award" for editorial excellence, the 2001 and 2008 National Association of Ag Journalists' Mackiewicz Award, several American Agricultural Editors' "Oscars" plus many ag media awards from the New York State Agricultural Society.

Vogel is a three-time winner of the Northeast Farm Communicators' Farm Communicator of the Year award. He's a National 4-H Foundation Distinguished Alumni and an honorary member of Alpha Zeta, and board member of Christian Farmers Outreach.

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