Animal Health News & Notes for April 26, 2019
Copyright © Brakke Consulting
Editor: Lynn Fondon DVM MBA
IN THE NEWS:
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COMPANY EARNINGS RELEASES
• Bayer reported results for the first quarter of 2019. Animal health sales were EUR 421 million ($472 million), an increase of 2% compared to the comparable prior-year quarter (decline of 1% currency & portfolio adjusted). North American sales declined 4% to EUR 153 million ($172 million). (company website)
• Nestle reported results for the first quarter of 2019. Petcare sales were CHF 3.22 billion ($3.23 billion), an increase of 7% compared to the prior year (+5.5% organic growth). (company website)
• Colgate-Palmolive Company reported results for the first quarter 2019. Hill’s Pet Nutrition net sales were $600 million, an increase of 3%. Hill’s operating profit was $164 million, unchanged from the comparable prior-year quarter. (company press release)
• Orion Animal Health reported results for the first quarter of 2019. Sales for the quarter were EUR 20.7 million ($23 million), a 3% year-on-year increase in sales. (Animal Pharm)
• Parnell Pharmaceuticals reported results for the full year 2018. Turnover was A$26.5 million ($19 million), an increase of 39% compared to the prior year. Parnell recorded an annual profit of around A$0.1 million, a significant improvement on the A$(23) million loss posted in 2017. (Animal Pharm)
COMPANY NEWS RELEASES
• Aratana Therapeutics announced it has signed an agreement to be acquired by Elanco Animal Health. In conjunction with the transaction, Elanco also announced the formation of a commercial team dedicated to the veterinary specialty business. The deal is structured as a stock-for-stock transaction. Aratana stockholders will receive 0.1481 share of Elanco common stock and one contingent value right (CVR) for each share of Aratana common stock. Including the CVR, the transaction represents aggregate value of up to approximately $245 million. (company press release)
• The FDA released a warning letter to Abaxis after it found that the firm’s Piccolo Potassium assay, sold in the human market, is a Class III device and has not been approved as such. The changes to the device that precipitated the letter predated Zoetis’ acquisition of Abaxis in 2018, and Zoetis is working diligently with the FDA to resolve the matter. (RAPS.org)
• The USDA’s Agricultural Research Service it will grant Huvepharma an exclusive, royalty-bearing license for an experimental African swine fever vaccine. The vaccine claim was made in U.S. Patent No. 9,463,234, “Attenuated African swine fever virus strain induces protection against challenge with homologous virulent parental virus Georgia 2007 isolate,” issued on Oct. 11, 2016. (National Hog Farmer)
• Vetoquinol USA announced the launch of Flexprofen, a generic, beef-flavored chewable tablet that contains carprofen. Flexprofen is scored for easy dosing and available in 25 milligrams, 75 milligrams, and 100 milligrams chewables. (PRnewswire)
• IDEXX Laboratories and Covetrus reported that they have resolved and dismissed IDEXX’s claims against Vets First Choice, a Covetrus company, and two of its employees. Terms of the resolution were not disclosed. (BangorDailyNews.com)
• Vetstream announced it is an Association Partner to the American Association of Bovine Practitioners (AABP), providing AABP’s members with the benefits of their digital content and educational resource, Vetlexicon Bovis. (company press release)
• MesaGreen Pharmaceuticals announced plans to raise $12 million to fund development of the first FDA-approved treatment for dogs with seizures that can be administered at home. MesaGreen’s product is midazolam administered via an autoinjector delivery system. (Animal Pharm)
• Petco announced that nearly 1,300 Petco stores across the country now offer offering same-day delivery through Shipt, a membership-based online grocery marketplace. (Pet Product News)
• Chewy announced it will invest $55 million for a new fulfillment center in Salisbury, North Carolina. Chewy is dually headquartered in Dania Beach, Florida, and Boston, and already has eight fulfillment centers around the country. (Pet Product News)
• BabelBark, Inc. announced that it has been selected as the exclusive provider to the American Animal Hospital Association’s accredited hospitals across Canada and the United States for vet-to-pet healthcare monitoring and communication applications and services, via the company’s BabelVet digital application and software platform. (company press release)
• Scollar, Inc., announced plans to relocate its headquarters from Silicon Valley to Kansas City, Missouri. Scollar is a full stack open platform consisting of three tightly integrated technologies: a modular smart collar, a mobile app, and a data cloud service. The technology is designed to address the needs of pet parents, protein producers and veterinarians, as well as animal service providers and product manufacturers. (Areadevelopment.com)
• Performance Food Group Co. (PFG) and IdentiGEN announced the launch of PathProven, a complete DNA Trace Back System for beef production. PathProven can link the steak on a plate to the specific animal and source, and is the first beef DNA traceback system in North America, according to the company. (Feedstuffs)
• A class action lawsuit has been filed on behalf of R-CALF USA and four cattle feeding ranchers from Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas and Wyoming, alleging that the nation’s four largest beef packers – Tyson Foods Inc., JBS S.A., Cargill Inc. and National Beef Packing Co. LLC – violated U.S. antitrust laws, the Packers & Stockyards Act and the Commodity Exchange Act by unlawfully depressing the prices paid to American ranchers. The defendants collectively purchase and process more than 80% of the fed cattle in the US annually. (Feedstuffs)
• Beyond Meat Inc., a company selling plant-based protein that is designed to look, taste and cook like beef, pork and poultry announced the launch of its initial public offering (IPO) of 8,750,000 shares of common stock. Beyond Meat expects to receive gross proceeds of approximately $175.0 million from the offering, or $201.3 million if the underwriters exercise their option in full. (Feedstuffs, CNN)
• Cocoon Biotech announced it is developing silk fibroin as an “eco-friendly biocompatible materials science platform” across a range of industries that could yield products in the animal health space. The firm intends to harness silk’s unique chemical and physical material properties to support applications including the ability to formulate and extend the delivery of therapeutics, focusing initially on ophthalmology, pain and osteoarthritis in animals. (Animal Pharm)
• ARGENTINA Biogénesis Bagó announced a technical and commercial agreement with ProinVet Innovations, a new company focused on livestock reproduction tools. The companies plan to develop new tools for the livestock sector. (Animal Pharm)
ANIMAL HEALTH NEWS
• CHINA – ASF According to a Rabobank senior protein analyst speaking at the International Poultry Council’s First Semester Conference, African Swine Fever (ASF) has now spread to every province in mainland China since it was discovered in August 2018 and will likely lead to an elimination of 30% of China’s pork supply. That translates to an estimated 150 to 200 million pigs affected, which is about 30 percent greater than the US’s annual pork production and roughly the same amount as Europe’s annual pork supply. Moreover, the pork breeding operations in China are devastated by the disease and, if the disease were stopped today, it would take more than eight years to restore the country’s breeding capabilities to pre-ASF levels. (Feed Strategy enews)
• CANADA – CWD Researchers in the University of Calgary Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (UCVM) have developed a vaccine for chronic wasting disease, tested in a mouse model, that prolonged the time before infected animals developed symptoms by up to 60%. The research was published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry. (Feedstuffs)
• US – NPIP The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is seeking public comment on certain proposed revisions to the National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP), a cooperative federal/state/industry mechanism for controlling certain poultry diseases. For more information, go to https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/04/11/2019-07214/notice-of-availability-of-proposed-changes-to-the-national-poultry-improvement-plan-program. (Federal Register)
BRAKKE CONSULTING VIEWPOINT
Continuing with the vaccine theme from last week, I noted an announcement this week that Huvepharma received an exclusive license from the USDA-ARS to develop an experimental African Swine Fever Virus (ASFV) Vaccine under a 2016 patent issued to the USDA-ARS and the University of Connecticut. This latest announcement comes on the heels of an earlier announcement (October 2018) that the USDA-ARS granted an exclusive license to Zoetis related to two additional ASFV vaccine patents, separate and distinct from the one licensed to Huvepharma. Each of these exclusive patent licenses apparently specify and describe different ASF vaccine candidates.
African Swine Fever is a highly contagious viral disease of pigs which is easily spread by direct contact, waste, contaminated feed, clothing, equipment, and vehicles. The disease kills more than 90% of the pigs it infects and obvious severe economic impacts follow. With no vaccine available, the only tools available to producers the world over are detection, de-population, and decontamination. The disease is currently spreading through Eastern Europe, China and Vietnam. China alone has reported over 100 outbreaks since August 2018. The virus has not yet reached the US, but the level of concern is extremely high, as evidenced by the recent Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA) News headline, “U.S. Braces for African Swine Fever”, wherein Dr. Scott Dee, Research Director for Pipestone Applied Research in Pipestone, MN, after returning from China says of ASFV – “It’s coming. There’s no question”. In addition, out of an abundance of caution the National Pork Producers Council decided to cancel its World Pork Expo in June, which was expected to attract 20,000 visitors and exhibitors, many of which were coming from areas experiencing outbreaks of disease. Experts believe it is just a matter of time before ASFV arrives in this US, most likely coming through airports and ports in contaminated goods and on travelers.
The efficient transfer of vaccine candidates from the public sector to industry partners in the private sector is in my mind critical to keeping the US ASFV-free. Hopefully, the strategy of selecting multiple “exclusive” industry partners increases the chances of developing an efficacious ASFV vaccine without delay. It’s clear that the clock is ticking and the threat to the US swine herd is very real. Our heavily export dependent US pork producers must be equipped with an effective vaccine soon in order to protect both their animals and their markets in an already financially challenging environment.
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