Amgen wriggles out of state bill on rat poisons, says it prefers its rodent-killing methods

Changing methods can be tough—that's why Amgen is sticking with its rat poison of choice. (Pixabay)(sibya from Pixabay)

With a bill passed this week, California legislators and environmentalists cast a spotlight on the use of industrial rodent poisons that are killing off native wildlife. But local drugmaker Amgen wanted fewer restrictions on its rat-killing methods, leaving critics to suggest: Maybe try traps, instead?

The Thousand Oaks, California-based pharma outmaneuvered a recent state bill restricting the commercial and industrial use of anticoagulant rat poisons because of an adverse effect on large predators in the area, local newspaper The Acorn reported

Amgen finagled its way out of the bill—AB 1788, which passed the California Assembly earlier this week—which would have required the company to rethink its rat policy at a facility in Newbury Park. The complex backs up to a wildlife preserve frequented by cougars and other wildlife, according to the Acorn. 

In an emailed statement, Amgen said it worked to secure the exemption because it simply couldn't identify another method for sending rats to meet their maker—or one would meet the FDA's standard, at least.

"While Amgen supports the intent of the bill, we have not yet found a reliable alternate technology that both satisfies the requirements of the bill and the [FDA's] safety and sanitation requirements for our facilities," a spokeswoman said in the email. "We will continue to pilot emerging pest control technologies in the hope of identifying alternatives that will also ensure our facilities remain compliant with FDA requirements."

The Acorn cited a slew of environmental groups that tied the use of rat poisons—also known as rodenticides—to premature death in big cats and other predators. According to one group, 90% of tested cougars in the area were positive for the compounds. 

Anticoagulant rat poisons, which can take weeks to kill rodents, were banned for residential use in California back in 2014. The Acorn reported that other companies included in the bill's exemption would likely not use that form of poison as their internal cleaning standards require the immediate killing of rodents. 

The final text of AB 1788 cuts out specific agricultural and government facilities as well as sites that manufacture drugs or medical devices.