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Animal Pharm Awards 2019 see a different winner in every category

The Animal Pharm Awards 2019 has brought victories for Zoetis, MSD Animal Health, Antech Diagnostics, Virbac, Dechra Pharmaceuticals and others.

Each award in the latest season was won by a different company – highlighting the diversity of innovation and success in the animal health industry.

Previous winners Zoetis, MSD, Virbac and Klifovet added to their accolades from previous years, while there were also first-time successes for companies such as Alivira Animal Health, Antech, Dechra and PetMedix.

The Animal Pharm Awards aim to highlight innovation and growth made by companies of all sizes and from different sectors.

Best new companion animal product – Antech Diagnostics' RenalTech

RenalTech's victory in this category taps into the next-generation trend of combining artificial intelligence with veterinary diagnostics.

In 2019, Antech – a subsidiary of Mars Petcare – brought to market a predictive tool based on deep analysis of large amounts of data, using artificial intelligence and machine learning. This diagnostic aims to shift the paradigm from detection of chronic kidney disease (CKD) in cats to prediction.

Veterinary practitioners can use RenalTech to identify cats that will or will not develop CKD within the next 24 months, with greater than 95% accuracy (based on parameters derived from routine lab testing).

CKD is the leading cause of mortality in cats older than five years and affects 30-40% of all cats over the age of 10 years.

Antech stated: "Unfortunately, the prognosis for many cats is poor after diagnosis because a cat typically would have already lost 40% or more of its kidney function by the time a veterinarian could diagnose CKD. RenalTech – based on artificial intelligence and machine learning – is transforming how clinicians practice veterinary medicine proactively. It allows veterinarians to develop personalized care plans with a high level of pet owner engagement and compliance to facilitate longer, healthier lives for cats."

RenalTech is the first predictive diagnostic of its kind in the veterinary market. Antech said it will be "the first of many predictive tools" for companion animals.

Earlier this month, RenalTech reached a milestone of delivering predictive insight into individual feline future CKD status over 100,000 times.

Best new food animal product – MSD Animal Health's Porcilis Lawsonia

This is the second year in a row this award has gone to an innovation in MSD Animal Health's vaccine portfolio – an offering that is striving to not only improve animal health but also increase welfare.

Porcilis Lawsonia is the first inactivated, one-dose, freeze-dried intramuscular bacterial vaccine for piglets from three weeks of age against Lawsonia intracellularis. The vaccine is indicated to reduce diarrhea, loss of daily weight gain, intestinal lesions, bacterial shedding and mortality caused by L intracellularis infection. It was launched in Europe during 2019.

MSD Animal Health noted: "Porcine proliferative enteropathy or ileitis, which is present in 80-100% of European farms and is one of the top five most commonly identified health challenges on swine farms, is caused by the L intracellularis bacterium. The disease remains an important pathogen of growing pigs worldwide." 

Porcilis Lawsonia provides 21 weeks of disease protection and works in the presence of antibiotics (feed, water soluble and injectable) and water chlorination systems.

"The currently available competitor oral vaccine contains live microorganisms and requires strict antibiotic-free management practices around the time of vaccination as antimicrobials may kill the vaccine antigen," MSD pointed out.

The product is also the first Lawsonia vaccine that can be combined with a PCV/M Hyo combination vaccine. This provides protection against three major swine diseases – L intracellularis, porcine circovirus type 2 and Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae – in a single intramuscular vaccination.

MSD gained favorable study results from an experimental vaccination challenge trial that compared the efficacy of Porcilis Lawsonia as a standalone against the commercially available competitor live attenuated vaccine.

Best start-up – PetMedix

The UK's PetMedix takes the best start-up award after a year where it secured sizeable series A funding, grew the strength of its board and added to its scientific expertise. The company has built an impressive managerial team, as it aims to bring its monoclonal antibodies to the pet health sector.

The firm is built on "world-leading transgenic technology that underpins the most successful and advanced human antibody platforms available today".

PetMedix stated: "The complete and intact immune system of our platform leverages the full potential of the dog's own natural antibody repertoire – a feat not possible with alternate technologies – to maximize the safety and efficacy of our products. The result is precision drugs with higher efficacy, reduced risk of side effects and reduced immunogenicity (a property which may lower efficacy and increase risk of further side effects)."

The company is exploring a wide range of indications as it aims to bring the monoclonal antibody benefits of human health to the companion animal space.

It added: "Our therapeutic targets have been informed by not only key papers and data on canine disease and the economic potential, but also the often profound impact these diseases have on the welfare of pets and their owners. Our approach considers affordability and value to the pet owning public, and how we can assist veterinary practices in delivering these therapies to their clients.

"We're building a robust appreciation of price point considerations, supply and demand chains, handling safety, drug administration challenges, the ethical challenges of preserving quality of life versus longevity, and how all of these factors impact the success of therapies in this market. We carry this understanding into our strategic planning at every stage of the drug delivery process.

"Our vision for PetMedix is not only to produce highly effective monoclonal antibody therapies for a range of companion animal conditions. We're aiming to continue to develop our company with a true understanding of how to deliver maximum impact to the vet in practice providing an effective treatment for the owner and their beloved pet."

Best company in Europe – Virbac

France's Virbac recently closed a successful 2019, which saw it post an 8% upturn in revenues. The company has been excelling in the US, Latin America and Asia, while it has plans to grow its presence in China.

This was Virbac's best sales growth performance since 2015. The judging panel for the Animal Pharm Awards were particularly impressed with the firm's recent actions, as it returns to healthy growth. The company is recovering after overcoming US de-stocking issues and is focused on building a platform for future growth.

Virbac is heading towards becoming the animal health industry's next billion-euro business – a milestone US financial services firm Jefferies claims could be achieved by 2021.

Last year, chairman Sébastien Huron said Virbac is in a much better position to consider potential acquisitions. This suggests even greater growth could be ahead for the business.

Mirroring its improving performance, Virbac's share price gradually increased throughout 2019.

Best company in North America – Zoetis

While this award has previously gone to some of the continent's smaller players, this year the industry's leading company was victorious. Zoetis matched financial vitality with ongoing innovation and several forward-thinking deals, as it continues to lead the way in the animal health sector.

While the firm has yet to conclude fiscal 2019, at the nine-month stage of the year its sales were up by 8%. The company's top line continues to prosper from its recent innovations in the companion animal sector.

Key moments for Zoetis in 2019 was its entry into the equine nutrition sector via acquisition, a significant move into the US reference laboratory space, multiple key research deals with academia and the European approval of Simparica Trio.

However, perhaps the biggest headline for the firm last year was when it became the first major animal health company to hire a female chief executive. Kristin Peck succeeded Animal Pharm Hall of Fame inductee Juan Ramón Alaix in a move that could be the beginning of a wider trend for the animal health space.

Best company in Latin America – Laboratorio CDV

This year's Latin American award goes to one of the region's smaller firms that aspires to become a much bigger player.

Argentina's Laboratorio CDV is an established supplier of vaccines to its domestic market and abroad. The company's portfolio features respiratory, reproductive and clostridial vaccines, as well as preventatives for bovine brucellosis and diagnostic tests for tuberculosis and brucellosis.

The firm is currently working on a 10-year plan to boost its presence in the foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) vaccine sector. This strategy has seen CDV invest heavily in its FMD vaccine facility, which recently became functional.

The company hopes this site will boost its presence in Latin America, as well as in Asia, the Middle East and Africa. The company believes the planned ramp up in sales of its FMD vaccines could help it report turnover of $55m by 2021.

One key area of research for CDV has been developing serum-free vaccines. The firm stated: "CDV developed an original vaccine production process that uses a culture medium of higher quality and chemically defined composition, which allows bovine serum requirements to be reduced by 90%. Bovine serum is a universal component applied for in vitro culture and proliferation, and in the biological production of animal cells, but its composition, effects and exact interactions of all components are not completely defined.

"Although all the laboratories producing FMD vaccines worldwide have costly lines of R&D open in order to eradicate the use of serum in their processes, CDV is the first company to apply such significant progress to its industrial production line."

Best company Asia and Australasia – Kyoritsu Seiyaku

There were two major reasons behind Kyoritsu Seiyaku's victory in this category. The leading Japanese animal health firm made two significant moves in 2019 that saw it increase its presence in China and move into the digital technology arena.

Kyoritsu set up a joint venture with Jinyubaoling Bio-Pharmaceutical – a subsidiary of China's biggest animal vaccines maker Jinyu Bio-technology. This move will focus on developing vaccines for China's pet market. The firms will establish a manufacturing facility for the venture at Jinyu's headquarters in Hohhot, Inner Mongolia.

Kyoritsu has built considerable experience in developing and manufacturing pet vaccines for the Japanese sector. This know-how will be combined with Jinyu's general vaccine manufacturing capabilities, as part of the joint venture's goal to supply high-quality vaccines to China. The project will help Jinyu break into the pet vaccine market for the first time.

Kyoritsu took its first step into digital health realm with VRAINERS in 2019. The Japanese firm worked with IBM Watson to develop a platform that provides electronic medical records for companion animals at veterinary hospitals.

VRAINERS also helps veterinary hospitals manage and analyze data accumulated in electronic medical records, in an integrated way. The differentiator between conventional medical record systems already used in Japanese veterinary hospitals and VRAINERS is the latter's connection with the outside world. The new technology was officially launched in October 2019.

The system provides an animal medical database stored in an IBM Cloud server, which is backed up by a support service that benefits from Kyoritsu's specialist veterinary knowledge. VRAINERS provides timely visualization information on individual animals and is designed to help each hospital improve its diagnosis reports.

The technology will help Kyoritsu develop applications in advanced imaging and diagnostics based on the data collected by VRAINERS.

Kyoritsu aims to become a top 10 business in animal health over the next few years. The firm is currently 12th in the industry rankings and will move up one place when Elanco closes its deal for Bayer Animal Health. The firm's UK subsidiary Carus Animal Health also began sourcing innovation during 2019.

In addition to these feats, Kyoritsu achieved 8% sales growth in its latest full fiscal year.

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

Alivira Animal Health has been on a journey to the top in recent years. It is now the largest animal health company headquartered in India. It is also the country's only animal health firm to have a significant presence outside of its domestic market in Europe, Turkey, Latin America and many emerging markets.

Over its fiscal 2019, Alivira's sales climbed 22% with its formulations and active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) driving sales globally.  The company's fiscal 2020 is well under way – revenues are currently up by 16% after the first nine months.

Alivira is closing in on $175m in annual turnover. This means it is moving nearer to becoming the first Indian business in the animal health sector's top 20.

The company signaled its intentions to grow in North America by adding its first vice president of business operations in the US during 2019.

There will be more growth to come for Alivira. The company's pipeline currently features 35 formulations and 26 APIs. For formulations, Alivira aims to make 10 new US filings over the next three years. Alivira is expecting to make its first US injectable filing in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2020.

Visionary CEO – Ian Page of Dechra Pharmaceuticals

Ian Page has played a major role in the development of Dechra Pharmaceuticals over recent years. The UK firm has become a top 10 player in animal health through multiple acquisitions, organic growth and geographic expansion.

Mr Page joined the firm's board in 1997 and became chief executive in 2001. He brings the company business experience of both the human pharmaceutical and veterinary sectors.

In 2019, Dechra maintained its ongoing strong financial showing – it confirmed its fourth year in a row of double-digit sales growth. The company prospered across all geographies and species.

Mr Page previously said: "Financially, we have continued to outperform in almost all markets in which we operate, especially in the US where we have delivered another year of exceptional organic growth.

"Our pipeline has delivered new products and has been significantly enhanced with new technology. Geographically, we have extended our footprint through the acquisition of Vencofarma and we have successfully integrated the acquisitions completed in the previous financial year."

The company's major deals in 2019 saw it add manufacturing capabilities in the US and secure an increased stake in pain mitigation specialist Medical Ethics.

Mr Page has been an understated presence throughout Dechra's recent successes.

Best services company – Klifovet

Germany's Klifovet has taken this award for the second time – proving its value to the animal health industry.

In 2019, the firm was supported two significant product approvals in Europe and provided regulatory consultation to many innovative businesses. The company's clients have now gained seven centralized European approvals in the last five years.

Klifovet also hosted the first ever conference on 'International registration of animal health products', which addressed regulatory challenges in North America, South America, Middle East, Africa, Russia, Japan and Europe, with an international panel of speakers.

The company noted: "There are various other products that reached the market in 2019 due to Klifovet's significant contribution, either by conducting pivotal studies and/or defining the regulatory pathway and submitting applications."

These products included antimicrobials, parasiticides, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, vaccines, and feed additives.

"Based on our thorough know-how of regulations, we have moved into the new area of technical devices facilitating the use of artificial intelligence in animal health, as well as diagnostics," the firm said. "Klifovet extensively works in novel therapeutic approaches, most of them biological products based on stem cells, plant derived, gene therapies, phages etc."

Judging panel

This year's judging panel featured global experts with skillsets from various parts of the animal health sector. The judging panel included:

Dr Karen Padgett – the founder of US-based animal health consultancy Unfenced. Dr Padgett spent 26 years with Hill's Pet Nutrition, serving as director of global business development, chief of the firm's veterinary business channel and national sales director for the Vet Channel. More recently, she was chief operating officer at Ceva Animal Health.

Matthias Hofer – the managing partner at Stonehaven Consulting. He has around 20 years of experience in the animal health industry. Between 2009 and 2013, he led the global aqua health business at Novartis Animal Health. After that, he was global leader of emerging business at Elanco and a member of the firm's global executive committee.

Denni O Day – founder, president and chief executive of US contract research organization VetPharm.  Ms Day has more than 30 years of regulated clinical research experience (both veterinary and human) in commercial and academic settings. She is a member of the Animal Health Institute, as well as numerous industry organizations.

Dr Sandeep Juneja – the managing partner of HyPro Foods in Mumbai. He also runs consultancy business Animal Health India. He has previously worked in senior management for Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health India, Bayer Animal Health in Mumbai and Fort Dodge Animal Health in Chennai. His career in animal health exceeds 20 years.

Wolfgang Müller – an executive consultant and partner at De Causmaecker & Partner in Germany. He previously spent over 20 years at Bayer Animal Health, working in several senior roles across the globe.

Animal Pharm editor Joseph Harvey and head of reports Dr Alan Bullion are also members of the judging panel. In case of a dead heat in any categories, Animal Pharm's editorial team and network of global correspondents lend a hand.

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