OXFORD - European officials have tentatively decided to defer until April the implementation of restrictions on imports of "specified risk materials" that are made from animal products that the European Union worries could be contaminated with bovine spongiform encephalopathy.

The ban was scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1. It would have affected a significant portion of U.S. pharmaceutical exports to Europe, which are comprised of gelatin capsules and pills containing tallow, as well as biotechnology products produced in bovine-based growth agents. The postponement will allow time to negotiate changes to accommodate the concerns of pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors, according to European Union spokesperson Ella Kruckof.