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Animal Pharm Awards presents accolades to serial winners and new names

Zoetis, Merck Animal Health and Biogénesis Bagó have all won Animal Pharm Awards in 2018 – adding to their accolades from previous years.

However, the latest awards also commended some first-time winners, with new names gaining their debut Animal Pharm awards. Vaccines were a major feature of this year's selections.

The Animal Pharm Awards aim to highlight the innovation and growth made by companies of all sizes and from different sectors. This was a record year for nominations, as competition gets more intense.

Best new companion animal product – Zoetis' Core EQ Innovator

This year's winner was a product that brought much-needed innovation to the equine health space.

In August 2018, Zoetis launched the Core EQ Innovator vaccine in the US. It became the first and only equine vaccine to protect against all five core equine diseases – West Nile virus (WNV), Eastern and Western equine encephalomyelitis, tetanus and rabies – in one product.

These diseases are designated as 'core' by the American Association of Equine Practitioners because all horses are at risk of exposure, all have a high fatality rate and some may present a potential human health risk.

Zoetis stated: "Annual vaccination against the five core equine diseases has long been an established standard of care. Equine veterinarians and horse owners identified a need to simplify compliance with vaccination by providing efficacy, safety and enhanced convenience when administering core disease immunizations. A single vaccine rather than multiple vaccines that would deliver protection from the five most significant diseases that threaten the lives of horses was the ideal solution."

Core EQ Innovator's safe and effective immunization was demonstrated in safety and efficacy trials. The vaccine was field tested in more than 1,000 horses with 99.7% of horses being reaction-free. The vaccine contains the adjuvant MetaStim, which is designed for safe and enhanced presentation on antigens to the immune system. MetaStim features a dual-phase formulation shown to stimulate both cell-mediated and humoral immunity.

"Core EQ Innovator exceeded internal expectations within the first month of product availability," the firm added. "Feedback from customers during pre-launch activity was overwhelmingly positive in support of protecting horses against core diseases with one vaccination. That has followed through as we launched, with the product profile making sense to veterinarians who want to offer protection to patients against all core diseases. The product is being well-received by veterinarians who see this product as the best medicine."

Best new food animal product – Merck Animal Health's IDAL

In the food animal category, vaccine innovation was also commended. The two winning new products offered by MSD Animal Health – a division of Merck – were launched globally (aside from North America) in 2018.

IDAL 3G Twin is the first needle-free and intradermal device with two injector heads and the latest addition to the IDAL portfolio for swine vaccination. IDAL 3G is an upgraded needle-free, intradermal delivery device – also from the IDAL portfolio for swine vaccination.

The IDAL family of devices from MSD provide a solution for implementing needle-free vaccination on the farm. The devices remove the needle from the process and, in turn, improve animal welfare by making vaccination safe and less stressful for pigs, while giving farmers added convenience and efficiency.

"Needle-free and intradermal application of vaccines is the most advanced method of pig vaccination today," MSD said. "The IDAL devices allow the vaccine to be delivered intradermally rather than deeper in the subcutaneous muscle. Compared to muscle tissue, the skin is much better adapted to vaccination as it is a truly immunological organ and contains many specialized immune cells, waiting for incoming pathogens and ready to start a specific immune response to defend the body. In the muscle, these specialized immune cells are not normally present.

"The fixed volume of intradermal vaccines (0.2ml) is perfect for the purpose. It is enough to spread horizontally in the skin and to induce an immune response. A larger volume would just make the vaccine go elsewhere."

The IDAL 3G Twin's dual nozzle design further supports farm management and animal welfare by delivering two vaccines with a single movement to efficiently protect against two of the most common diseases seen in swine today – porcine circovirus type 2 and Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae.

IDAL 3G added a new balanced, ergonomically shaped two-component surface for maximum grip and handling with two-button control and graphical display. Five intradermal swine vaccines can be administered with the IDAL 3G, including Porcilis PRRS, Prime PAC PRRS, Porcilis PCV ID, Porcilis M HYO ID Once and Porcilis AD Begonia.

Hall of Fame

Animal Pharm will soon be launching a Hall of Fame for the animal health industry. This has replaced the annual Lifetime Achievement award. The first inductee will enter the Hall of Fame in the coming weeks. More details will be featured soon on www.animalpharmnews.com.

"MSD is the only company that has intradermal vaccines for key swine diseases," the company stated. "In addition, we are also the only company that has a needle-free injector with a dual head, which allows to administer two vaccines at the same time.

"We expect that our market share of 'The IDAL Way' portfolio will continue to grow in an environment where animal welfare and well-being is of increasing importance. Given the advantages of efficacy, animal welfare, worker safety and meat safety and quality, combined with our efforts to further expand the IDAL product portfolio, we expect this technology will take over from traditional needle-applied vaccines."

Best start-up – GST

Global Stem cell Technology (GST) developed the first stem cell-based veterinary medicine recommended for marketing authorization by positive opinion in Europe.

During 2018, the start-up also obtained Good Laboratory Practice accreditation and upscaled production for market needs under Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) conditions, with extension of a GMP license for new clean room facilities.

GST also closed a private placement of €5 million ($5.7 million), opened an office in the US and filed two new patents.

The firm said its expertise includes: "The purification of highly potent stem cells and inducing them towards the cell type that needs to be repaired in the injured tissues. These inducing techniques are covered by different patents, which are enforced by using specifically developed techniques to evaluate potential copycats. Specific cell induction is crucial to give the cells the correct signals for tissue repair.

"This results in significantly higher clinical effectiveness of the different stem cell products. Indeed, the first fully developed product has a proven efficacy in 78% of horses with arthrosis, which is more than 50% superior to the control treatment. These promising results encouraged the company and shareholders to develop other stem cell-based products for other indications in horses and dogs."

GST's hard work was highlighted when the company signed a partnership with Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health.

Best company in Europe – Vaxxinova

Dutch firm Vaxxinova expanded its international horizons in 2018 with some smart acquisitions.

Firstly, it strengthened its Latin American presence with an acquisition in Brazil. It bought Laboratório Biovet – a family-owned animal health company founded in 1957 and headquartered in Vargem Grande Paulista, São Paulo State.

Biovet has a strong position in the Brazilian animal health industry and exports to over 10 countries. Its leading brands include its Bio-Coccivet vaccine against avian coccidiosis, the Resguard Multi vaccine against clostridiosis and its Vermivet de-wormer for pets.

The combination of the companies will allow Vaxxinova to grow even faster in Brazil, as well as offer a wider product and services portfolio.

The company's second acquisition of 2018 saw it make a big step in its globalization by capturing US food animal vaccine firm Epitopix. Not only did this deal further support Vaxxinova's biologicals capabilities but it also gave it a ground presence in the US for the first time. The deal also provided Vaxxinova with large-scale vaccine manufacturing capabilities in the US.

Epitopix specializes in poultry and livestock biologicals. The company's vaccines incorporate its siderophore receptor protein technology, which induces host immunity against certain cell wall components of common gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria. In addition to its biologicals for cattle, poultry and pigs, Epitopix also produces autogenous vaccines – a core part of the Vaxxinova portfolio as well.

In addition to its new sites in the US and Brazil, Vaxxinova also has R&D, production and diagnostic facilities in Germany, Italy, Norway, Japan, Jordan and the Netherlands.

The company is building a significant platform for future growth that should see it become an even more prominent player in the veterinary vaccines space.

Best company in North America – Kindred Biosciences

Kindred Biosciences fought off strong competition in this category from big US-based players – a sign that smaller businesses are sharing the spotlight in animal health.

In July 2018, KindredBio moved from a development-stage biopharmaceutical company to a commercial-stage firm with the launch of Mirataz (mirtazapine transdermal ointment). This product became the first US FDA-approved transdermal medication for cats.

This transition occurred around five years after the company was founded. With the launch of Mirataz, KindredBio validated it business model. The company brought Mirataz to market for under $5 million and in less than five years. KindredBio has built an organization poised to repeat this rapid and efficient drug development process again and again with "one of the most robust pipelines in the industry".

For the third quarter of 2018 – the product's first quarter on the market – Mirataz revenues came to $640,000 and it was already in around one quarter of the 25,000 veterinary clinics in the US.

Furthermore, in 2018, KindredBio secured positive study results for its IL-31 antibody for the treatment of atopic dermatitis in dogs.

"These positive results validate the broad portfolio of additional biologics KindredBio has for this disease, as well as for other serious unmet medical needs, positioning KindredBio to be a leader in companion animal biologics," the company noted.

"The future for companion animal healthcare is extremely attractive. When KindredBio began, the median amount a pet parent was willing to spend to save the life of his or her pet was about $5,000. Today, that figure is $10,000. This is a major social trend and it's not slowing down."

Best company in Latin America – Biogénesis Bagó

Biogénesis Bagó won this title back in 2018, as the judges could not ignore the firm's international expansion in markets such as Brazil and China.

During 2018, the Argentine company continued to improve its position in the highly competitive Asia vaccines market. Biogénesis' new foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) vaccine production plant in China – a joint venture with Hile Biotechnology – allowed it to deepen its involvement with other countries in the region such as Taiwan and South Korea. The company expects to grow considerably in Asia over the next five years.

This is first full year of the joint venture and Biogénesis has a 3% share of the Chinese FMD vaccine market. The firm believes it will double this percentage in the next year. In the next five years, the company expects to export more than $100 million of FMD vaccines to Asia.

"As part of the company's positioning strategy in south east Asia, during 2018 we were able to export the first 7.5 million doses to Vietnam, thus opening a new market in that region for the trivalent vaccine that we produce in Argentina," Biogénesis stated.

"In Latin America, we focused our aim on Brazilian growth. There, the company doubled the team and focused attention on serving resellers and producers. We successfully set up an innovative program of dissemination and training on the use and commercialization of our health technologies. This program aims to strengthen the relationships between producers, advisors and marketing channels, based on trust and proximity for the implementation of solutions."

Biogenesis said it was the animal health company that grew the most in the Brazilian market during 2018. Commercial operations in Asia grew by 25% and total sales abroad increased 15% compared to the previous year.

Also in 2018, the company obtained patent rights in the US, Europe and China for an in vitro control power method for FMD vaccines.

In the coming years, Biogénesis plans to increase exportations of other products such as vaccines to prevent classical and emerging zoonoses, as well as technologies associated with the control and prevention of health emergencies and the incorporation of new lines for pets and swine.

Best company Asia and Australasia – Vetco Pharmaceuticals

This year's top Asian or Australasian company is a new name in the industry and was only established in 2012.

Taiwan-based Vetco impressed judges with the launch of its Antican treatment for pet cancer. This product provides precision assessment and therapy with the first anti-cancer drug with no chemotherapy side effects for companion animals.

Antican has been approved and launched in Taiwan. The product is injected into the tumor and, after 24 hours, pathology is performed to observe the tumor cells' response. From there, the veterinarian and pet owner can decide on a suitable treatment program – either with Antican or other treatment methods. 

Vetco said: "This program provides reliable scientific evidence to veterinarians and pet owners. Besides reducing the communication gap, it also saves pet owner’s money and avoid treatment delay."

The company said complete remission is possible with Antican treatment – the product causes necrosis in tumor cells without affecting normal tissues. No anesthesia is required with Antican treatment.

Vetco pilot studies showed the product had 60-70% effectiveness against skin-type tumors such as melanoma and mast cell.

"Precision medicine is very common in human medicine," Vetco explained. "Governments in the US as well as UK, France and China have been providing financial subsidy and policy support for the development of precision medicines. It is a future trend in medicine. However, there is no standard definition for veterinary precision medicine yet.

"There have been limited anti-cancer drugs specifically for animal health available in the market. Antican can serve as an additional treatment option for veterinarians and pet owners. It can also be combined with the current treatment methods in increasing the quality of life in tumor-bearing animals."

The company is now talking to some of animal health's biggest firms to take the product to international markets.

Best company in India/Middle East/Africa – Zydus Animal Health

Another previous winner retained its crown in 2018. Zydus Animal Health is a division of Cadila Healthcare and is headquartered at Ahmedabad, India.

Zydus markets 210 brands across large and small ruminants, poultry, pigs, horses and companion animals.

The firm has a state-of-the-art plant in Haridwar for manufacturing powders, tablets, liquid and injectables. In 2018, the plant cleared the audit of many countries including Saudi Arabia and some African nations – expanding the company's horizons further beyond Africa.

Zydus' dedicated probiotic manufacturing plant at Ahmedabad is also expanding its reach to cater for Indian and international veterinary probiotic markets. The Zydus Research Centre is working on developing and characterizing probiotic strains for poultry and livestock.

In 2018, Zydus introduced six new products to strengthen its food animal portfolio. The company received Indian approval for two poultry vaccines, as well as 26 marketing authorizations from south east Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

The firm stated: "The company keeps on exploring newer opportunities to expand its market reach year after year.  In 2018, Zydus AH to post a turnover of INR5,000 million ($70 million) with a growth of 18% over the previous year.

"Besides domestic prominence, Zydus has made significant strides in its export business especially in south east Asia, Africa and the Middle East during 2018, along with the clearance of the regulatory audit of many countries for its WHO-GMP compliant manufacturing plant. Going forward, exports will be a major growth driver for Zydus."

Visionary CEO – Anne Chauder of Domes Pharma

In 2018, Anne Chauder moved her company Dômes Pharma into the spotlight. She has been a figurehead for the business, which is going from strength to strength in its domestic market of France and abroad with noticeable partnerships.

Ms Chauder has bought passion and personality to her role, as she builds Dômes into a noticeable European business. She has featured at several global animal health conferences with her insightful presentations – bringing a new name to the sector. She has been at Dômes for 11 years in several managerial roles.

She told Animal Pharm she was honored to receive the accolade and hopes to be a role model for other women in the animal health industry. One of her quests has been to raise the awareness of female leaders in animal health, which is something she was commended for last year by the Feather in Her Cap awards.

Ms Chauder can add her Animal Pharm award to her already long list of commendations including the recent International Women's Trophy for the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes and Geneva region.

Dômes was established in 1947. It has over 360 employees across five sites in France and the UK. The firm reported revenues of €82 million ($93 million) in 2017 across both animal and human health.

The company's annual animal health sales make it a top 40 business in the veterinary medicines industry. It is a collection of businesses, including Laboratoire TVM, AUVEX Laboratories and Actipharm Laboratory.

TVM is a veterinary pharmaceutical laboratory, manufacturer and operator focused on the pet market. It develops, produces and markets a wide range of proprietary medicinal products, particularly in the areas of ophthalmology, neurology, geriatrics and hygiene and supplementation products. TVM exports products to the UK, Germany, the Benelux countries, Italy, Spain, Austria, Portugal, Greece and Switzerland.

Auvex focuses on over-the-counter activities and covers pharmaceutical development, promotion and distribution in France. Actipharm has a similar business but focuses on the Swiss pharmaceutical market. It also sells the TVM range in Switzerland.

Best services company – Argenta

New Zealand's Argenta is a combined contract research organization and contract manufacturing organization.

The firm's ability to house innovation, worldwide clinical research and manufacturing as a 'molecule-to-market' animal health business impressed the judges. The company provides these services to start-ups, mid-tier businesses and multinationals in the animal health sector.

In 2018, the firm witnessed these highlights:

  • A boost to its intellectual property portfolio with international patents granted for key technology platforms developed by Argenta Innovation;

  • Expanded Argenta Research capabilities and additional personnel in the US to increase service levels to key customers worldwide;

  • Master Services Agreements between its AlcheraBio unit and several top 10 companies, with numerous projects awarded;

  • European Medicines Agency approval of the Argenta manufacturing site in Fort Dodge, Iowa to permit product export to the European Union; and

  • Inspection of all three manufacturing sites by the US FDA with no Section 483s issued following inspection.

The company was also involved in the development of several innovative products that performed well in 2018 – these are confidential projects. Argenta also significantly increased headcount and manufacturing capacity last year.

"Argenta has moved into new areas of work in 2018 as the company has an aggressive growth plan that will require exploring adjacencies to its core pharmaceutical product business. Argenta, through Argenta Innovation, is evaluating the patented delivery technologies in nutraceuticals and nonpharmaceutical applications across species for which the technologies would be a fit and expand its molecule-to-market services.  

"Expansion through organic growth and acquired businesses has elevated Argenta to be a premiere provider of services in product development and commercial manufacture that is recognized by our customers. As a privately-owned company Argenta does not report its earnings nor does Argenta market and sell its own proprietary products.

"However, if Argenta were to be included in Animal Pharm's industry standings it would rank at around position 40 of the top 50 animal health companies based on current revenues."

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