American Kennel Club, Pfizer Inc. announce partnership for dog disease research
TRENTON, N.J. — Pfizer Inc. said Wednesday its animal health unit and the American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation entered an exclusive partnership on new areas of research on dog diseases and treatments.
Pfizer said the goal is to strengthen efforts to prevent, treat and cure canine disease, but the research eventually could lead to medicines for people as well.
"We have the opportunity to gain enormous insights and be part of pursuing scientific discoveries that not only impact animals, but ... humans," Dr. David Haworth, director of Global Alliances for Pfizer Animal Health, said in a statement.
The world's biggest drug-maker will provide $500,000 over two years and will include both basic and applied research. The New York-based company and the American Kennel Club will share leadership and scientific expertise.
They already have worked together through projects including the Canine Comparative Oncology and Genomics Consortium at the National Cancer Institute.
Pfizer said the deal is part of its ongoing commitment to veterinarians and the future of their profession.
The partnership might also help Pfizer curry favor with veterinarians and win loyalty to brands such as its Vanguard vaccine against distemper and other viruses.
Medicines for pets and livestock have become a hot area for huge pharmaceutical companies trying to diversify in an effort to combat the potential loss of billions in annual revenue as their blockbuster drugs get cheaper generic competition.
Treatments for pets are particularly appealing because they rarely face generic competition and prices are not negotiated down by insurance companies and government health programs, as with drugs for people. In addition, global sales of animal drugs and vaccines have been rising at a steady rate of 5% a year, partly fueled by bigger livestock herds as the growing middle class in emerging markets eats more meat.
Pfizer's Fort Dodge, Iowa, animal health unit leads the industry with about 20% of the market.
Pfizer is about to lose that lead to a joint venture awaiting final approval, combining the veterinary medicine businesses of Merck & Co. of Whitehouse Station, N.J., and France's Sanofi-Aventis. The two companies have said the combined operation, to be called Merial-Intervet, will have a share of about 29% in the $19-billion-a-year global market for medicines for pets and livestock. Its top products will include the widely used flea-and-tick blocker Frontline and chewable heartworm preventer Heartgard.
In afternoon trading, Pfizer shares were up 26 cents, or 1.6%, at $16.59, as the broader markets also rose.
-- Linda A. Johnson, Associated Press
Photo: A veterinarian examines a dog. Credit: Joe Raedle / Getty Images