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Animal Health Deals and Information-March/April 2011

This section of the website is not intended to be a comprehensive review of news in the animal health industry but rather a sample of deals and other interesting animal-health-related news items.

Eli Lilly and Company/Janssen Pharmaceutica NV
Elanco, the animal health division of Eli Lilly and Company, announced that Lilly has made an irrevocable, unconditional offer to acquire the animal health business of Janssen Pharmaceutica NV, a Johnson & Johnson Company. Janssen's animal health business is headquartered in Beerse, Belgium and focuses primarily on the European companion animal, swine, and poultry markets. Elanco will add about 50 marketed animal health products to its portfolio when the deal concludes. Financial terms were not disclosed.

According to Jeff Simmons, Lilly senior vice president and Elanco president, "The addition of Janssen's animal health business will strongly support a number of strategic growth priorities for Elanco, while providing synergies with our current operations. Through this transaction, we intend to further expand our European presence, bolster our growing portfolio of companion animal medicines and diversify our food animal portfolio with new swine and poultry products. We are excited about these new opportunities to improve animal health, food safety and food animal production while delivering greater value to our customers."

Pfizer Inc./King Pharmaceuticals Inc.
King Pharmaceuticals has become a wholly owned subsidiary of Pfizer. Assets included King Pharmaceutical’s Alpharma animal health business. According to Pfizer’s animal health website, the acquisition will provide customers with a more diversified portfolio of products, including medicated feed additives and water-soluble therapeutics for the prevention and treatment of diseases.

“Pfizer Animal Health welcomes Alpharma colleagues and the company’s respected products and services,” said Clint Lewis, President of U.S. Operations for Pfizer Animal Health.  “Today marks another important milestone in Pfizer Animal Health’s evolution in offering veterinarians, nutritionists and all our customers a more comprehensive portfolio of unique products and services. It also further demonstrates our commitment to becoming a complete solutions provider for our customers.”

Aratana Therapeutics Inc./RaQualia Pharma Inc.
Kansas City based Aratana Therapeutics Inc. has licensed two compounds from RaQualia Pharma Inc.’s human clinical development portfolio to be developed for use in companion animals. According to an Aratana press release, the first compound, a selective EP-4 antagonist, has achieved proof of efficacy in human studies and has demonstrated efficacy in animal models for several conditions including pain, cancer and autoimmune/inflammatory diseases. The second compound, a selective Ghrelin agonist, has achieved proof of efficacy in human studies and has demonstrated efficacy in animal models for treatment of cachexia and frailty. In exchange for these rights, RaQualia will receive an upfront payment, development milestones and royalties on global sales. Financial terms were not disclosed.

AgriLabs Ltd./Immucell Corporation
AgriLabs Ltd. and Immucell Corporation have announced a collaboration whereby the AgriLabs sales operation will add First Defense®, Immucell’s whey protein concentrate product, to its sales and marketing portfolio.

In press releases AgriLab’s technical services manager, Dr. Joel Ehrenzweig explained, “First Defense is a USDA-approved product prepared from hyperimmune bovine colostrum that reduces morbidity and mortality from neonatal calf scours by providing specific neutralizing antibodies against bovine coronavirus and K99+ E. coli. The dried colostral antibodies quickly afford Immediate Immunity™, thereby reducing scours-related morbidity and mortality.”

"I have known and respected the quality of the AgriLabs sales and marketing team for years. This collaboration gives us a great opportunity to work with them to increase demand for First Defense," notes Bobbi Jo Kunde, ImmuCell's director of sales and marketing. "AgriLabs is already known to many ImmuCell customers, which is a great start to this effort."

A second objective of the collaboration is to investigate a possible First Defense product line extension.

VetDC, Inc./Gilead Sciences
VetDC, Inc. a Ft. Collins based Colorado State University startup company, has acquired an exclusive license to develop and commercialize GS 9219, Gilead’s investigational molecule, as a therapeutic option for treating lymphoma in dogs. GS 9219 is an anti-proliferative agent that preferentially targets lymphoid cells and works by inhibiting cellular DNA synthesis, leading to induction of apoptosis.

Organizations and Alliances
Coalition Planning Wellness Awareness Campaign
After a recent study indicating that pet owners may not be aware of the value of wellness visits for their pets, several major organizations and several animal health companies have begun planning a campaign, targeted at veterinarians and their clients, to emphasize the importance of wellness. The coalition includes the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), and the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC). Dr. Ron DeHaven, AVMA CEO, is the coalition’s “point person.”

Morris Animal Foundation, AAFP, AVMF and AFF in Cat Health Partnership
Morris Animal Foundation reports that it has partnered with the American Association of Feline Practitioners, the American Veterinary Medical Foundation, and the Winn Feline Foundation to create the Cat Health network. MAF will be donating limited use of its new genetic tool for studying feline diseases. The tool, developed as a result of a gift from Hill’s Pet Nutrition, is a gene chip that contains SNPs, or single nucleotide polymorphisms, that function as genetic markers to help identify genetic predispositions to certain diseases. AAFP, AVMF, and WFF will provide funding for research using the SNPs.

American Heartworm Society and Merial Launch Heartworm Disease Education Program
The American Heartworm Society and Merial Ltd. marked Heartworm Awareness Month, which occurs in April, by launching a new educational initiative to help educate pet owners about heartworm disease. As part of the campaign, veterinarians receive a variety of tools to be used to facilitate discussions about the transmission, prevention, and treatment of heartworm disease with their clients.

Dr. Patricia Olson to Lead Animal Welfare and Research Initiative
Dr. Patricia Olson, most recently the president and CEO at Morris Animal Foundation, has been appointed as chief veterinary advisor at the American Humane Association. The Association was founded in 1877 and focuses on “the protection of children and animals,” according to its website. Dr. Olson will be responsible for a number of initiatives, including science-based definition of key elements that “advance and sustain the human-animal bond,” as well as projects promoting and developing relevant academic programs, research opportunities, and strategic alliances. She received her MSc and DVM from the University of Minnesota and her PhD from Colorado State University. Dr. Olson previously worked for the Association as its director of veterinary affairs and studies.

Facts and Figures
University of Georgia Study Addresses Breed-Specific Causes of Death in Dogs
University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine assistant professor Dr. Kate Creevy and her co-authors have conducted a study, published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, examining the causes of death in 82 breeds of dog. Dr. Creevy’s collaborators included Dr. Daniel Promislow, a genetics professor at the UGA Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, as well as former veterinary internal medicine resident Jamie Fleming, now in private practice.

The team reviewed twenty years’ of cause-of-death data from the Veterinary Medical Database. Approximately 75,000 dogs were represented. Deaths were classified by organ system and disease process, and data were analyzed by breed, age, and average body mass.

According to a UGA press release, “while some of the findings corroborate smaller, breed-specific studies, the UGA researchers also found plenty of surprises. Toy breed, such as Chihuahuas and Maltese, are known to have high rates of cardiovascular disease (19 and 21 percent within the breeds, respectively), for example, but the researchers found that Fox Terriers also have high rates of cardiovascular disease (16 percent of deaths). Golden retrievers and boxers are known to have high rates of cancer (50 and 44 percent of deaths, respectively), but the researchers found that the Bouvier des Flandres actually has a higher death rate from cancer (47 percent) than the boxer . . . The researchers found that larger breeds are more likely to die of musculoskeletal disease, gastrointestinal disease, and, most notably, cancer. Smaller breeds had higher death rates from metabolic diseases, such as diabetes and Cushing’s disease.”

Findings from Banfield Pet Hospital®, WebMD Pet Health and Veterinary Pet Insurance Provide Insight into Pet Disease and Injury
A report released by Banfield Pet Hospital® assessed data from more than 2.5 million pets that visited the company’s 770 hospitals in 2010 and analyzed trends emerging over a 5-year period from 2006 to 2010. According to a summary of Banfield’s State of Pet Health 2011 Report in DVM Newsmagazine, the data indicate a 32% spike in diabetes in dogs and 16% increase in diabetes in cats. Obesity data indicate that 32% of cats were classified as overweight by the veterinarian and 21.6% were assessed as clinical obese. Thirty-five percent of dogs were overweight and 20.6% obese. The report also covers dental disease, heartworm disease, ear disease, and parasites (roundworm, hookworm, tapeworm). Banfield’s data also indicate that smaller-breed dogs are becoming more popular; however Labrador Retriever comes in at #1 in breed popularity, followed by Chihuahua, Shih Tzu, Yorkshire Terrier, Pit Bull, German Shepherd, mixed breed, Dachshund, Maltese, and Standard Poodle. The report summary can be accessed here.

In a recent Healthy Pets feature, WebMD cited the top 10 dog and cat injuries: Ingesting foreign bodies; being hit by a vehicle; being bitten by another animal; being poisoned; developing an abscess from a cat bite, sustaining eye trauma; sustaining a cruciate ligament rupture; developing lameness or back problems; tearing or breaking a nail; and suffering from heat stroke and dehydration.

Veterinary Pet Insurance has issued its list of the top 10 most common causes of veterinary visits in 2010. In dogs, the conditions were ear infection, skin allergy, skin infection/hot spots, gastritis/vomiting; enteritis/diarrhea; arthritis; bladder infection; soft tissue trauma; non-cancerous tumor; and hypothyroidism. The top 10 conditions in cats were: lower urinary tract disease; gastritis/vomiting; chronic renal failure; hyperthyroidism; diabetes, enteritis/diarrhea; skin allergy; periodontitis/dental disease; ear infection; upper respiratory infection.

Humans Benefit from Walking Their Dogs
A publication in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health by researchers at Michigan State University reveals that people who have a dog and walk it had a 34% higher chance of reaching federal physical activity targets. Data from the CDC’s annual Michigan Behavioral Risk Factor Survey indicate that owning a dog affects behavior by encouraging owners to walk more and encouraging owners to become more active in general. Other interesting findings are: middle-aged people walk their dogs the least; young people and elderly people walk their dogs the most; people walk their dogs more when the dog is ~1 year old; people with dogs that weigh more than 45 pound go for longer walks than owners of small dogs.

Occupational Outlook Positive for Veterinary Technicians

The American Animal Hospital Association predicts “a rosy outlook” for people who want to become veterinary technicians, based on a prediction from the US Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics. According to the BLS, the number of vet technicians and technologists in the US grew from 63,680 in 2005 to 79,200 in 2009. The average salary during that period increased from $26,710 to $30,580. Employment of veterinary technologists and technicians will grow 36% during the period of 2008-2018, notes the BLS. Not all jobs will be in veterinary clinics. The BLS points to opportunities in biomedical facilities, diagnostic laboratories, wildlife facilities, drug and food manufacturing companies, and food safety inspection facilities.

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