The Experts in Animal Health

Brakke Consulting’s
Animal Health News & Notes for June 21, 2019
Copyright © Brakke Consulting

Editor: Lynn Fondon DVM MBA

Brakke Consulting news
Market research services

earnings news
ECO Animal Health

other news
AmeriVet Veterinary Partners
Ares Management Corporation
Blue Buffalo
Cosmic Pet
Crum & Forster
Fosun International
Guangdong Highsun Group
Healthy Paws
JAB Investors
Lionbridge Technologies
Modern Veterinary Therapeutics
National Veterinary Associates
OMERS Private Equity
Pets Best
Pets Plus Us
Pharmgate Animal Health
Probiotic Holdings
Uncharted Veterinary Conference

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• ECO Animal Health reported final results for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2019. Sales were GBP 74.6 million ($97 million), 11% higher than 2018 results. Profit after taxation was GBP 13.6 million ($17.7 million), a 16% increase over the prior year. (company press release)


• Chinese conglomerate Fosun International Ltd. is considering a bid for Bayer AG’s animal-health business, people familiar with the matter have said, and is considering teaming up with private equity firms or other financial investors for a joint offer. The animal-health business has drawn preliminary interest from potential bidders including KKR & Co., CVC Capital Partners, Advent International, Blackstone Group LP, EQT Partners and Permira, Bloomberg News has reported. (Bloomberg)

• Pharmgate Animal Health announced that Deracin (generic chlortetracycline) has been approved by the FDA for use in combination with the antimicrobial Denagard (tiamulin hydrogen fumarate) for the treatment of swine dysentery, enteritis and pneumonia. (company press release)

• Chewy Inc. raised $1.02 billion through its initial public offering (IPO) on June 13. The company sold 46.5 million shares at $22 each, significantly higher than the original $17-$19 target price range that was set in the original registration statement filed with the SEC in April. The IPO valued the company at $8.8 billion, which is roughly double the $4.45 billion valuation that PetSmart reportedly set last year in private communications with investors. (Pet Business)

• A fund managed by the Private Equity Group of Ares Management Corporation and its minority partner, OMERS Private Equity, have signed a definitive agreement to sell National Veterinary Associates (“NVA”) to JAB Investors. NVA’s senior management team will maintain a significant minority ownership and will continue to lead the business. JAB Investors acquired Compassion-First Pet Hospitals earlier this year. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. (PEHub, Todays Veterinary Business)

• Banfield announced that pet owners visiting one of six Banfield Pet Hospitals will be able to converse with the veterinary team in any of 350 languages. The company unveiled a 60-pay pilot program that utilizes a contractor, Lionbridge Technologies, to interpret for clients who speak anything from Mandarin, French or Portuguese to Vietnamese, Creole or Arabic. Clients who require interpretation will be placed on a phone call with a Lionbridge representative, who will translate for the veterinary team. (Vet Advantage – Todays Veterinary Business)

• Blue Buffalo announced the opening of a new manufacturing plant in Richmond, Indiana, to increase the U.S. and Canadian production of its natural health food product lines. The facility, Blue Buffalo’s second company-owned manufacturing plant, has the capacity to produce more than one million pounds of dry dog and cat food per day. (Veterinary Practice News)

• AmeriVet Veterinary Partners announced that a substantial minority investment has been made in the business by OPTrust, one of Canada’s largest defined benefit pension plans. Imperial Capital Limited (“Imperial”), the company’s majority investor, has also increased its investment. To date, AmeriVet has acquired majority ownership positions in 33 veterinary practices in 15 states. (

• Cosmic Pet announced it has acquired PetFusion, which sells primarily through e-commerce and is known for its high-quality cat scratchers. The company’s products also include pet feeders, dog beds, litter boxes, toys and more. Financial terms were not disclosed. (Pet Business)

• Probiotic Holdings announced it has closed a round of investment worth $6 million, bringing its total funding this year to $9.3 million. Probiotic’s subsidiaries develop bio-based products that aim to balance and enhance animal, human, plant and environmental health. Probiotic’s animal health subsidiary, Biojuvant, markets a range of microbial additive and bio-fertilizers. (Animal Pharm)

• Aquabyte announced it has secured $10 million in funding. The start-up will use its technology to improve the efficiency of fish farming by way of its underwater stereoscopic cameras that can determine fish health, size and optimal feed quantity. (Animal Pharm)

• dvm360 announced that the upcoming Fetch dvm360 conference in Kansas City, Missouri, will partner with the Uncharted Veterinary Conference founded by Dr. Andy Roark. Dr. Roark has been a premier speaker at Fetch dvm360 conferences and contributor to for many years. (

• CANADA Modern Veterinary Therapeutics, LLC announced that the Canadian Veterinary Drugs Directorate (VDD) has approved Dexvetidine (dexmedetomidine injection – 0.5mg/mL) in Canada for use as a sedative and analgesic in dogs and cats to facilitate clinical examinations, clinical procedures, minor surgical procedures, and minor dental procedures. Dexvetidine is also indicated for use as a preanesthetic to general anesthesia in dogs and cats. (company press release)

• CANADA LifeLearn Animal Health announced the launch of, a new pet insurance education website to help pet owners learn about what pet insurance is, what it isn’t, and the questions they need to ask prior to purchasing a policy. LifeLearn and currently work with Crum & Forster (ASPCA Pet Health Insurance and Hartville Pet Insurance), Healthy Paws, PetFirst, Petplan, Pets Best, and Pets Plus Us. LifeLearn will continue to collaborate with pet insurance companies and, over time, will add more. (

• CHINA Guangdong Highsun Group announced that a Hainan-based team has successfully developed an ASF vaccine. Highsun will sign a CNY900 million ($130 million) contract by June 2020 to further develop and mass-produce the vaccine. According to the firm, the patented “jinzhu polysaccharide injection” is 92% effective against ASF. However, China’s Ministry of Agriculture has rejected the claim, saying it has found “no scientific basis” on the reported test results of the product, a natural polysaccharide injection. (Animal Pharm, Feed Strategy enews)


• VIETNAM – ASF Vietnam has culled more than 2.5 million pigs to contain the spread of an African swine fever outbreak that has spread to farms in 58 of the country’s 63 provinces. Pork accounts for three-quarters of total meat consumption in Vietnam. (

• UK – RINDERPEST Scientists at The Pirbright Institute in the U.K. destroyed the final archive stocks of rinderpest virus held in the World Reference Laboratory for rinderpest. This completed a major milestone in the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) and U.N. Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO) program to ensure that the world remains free from the disease, which was eradicated in 2011. (Feedstuffs)

• US – MUMS The FDA announced an open period for applications for grants to support the development and approval or conditional approval of new animal drugs intended to treat uncommon diseases (minor uses) in major species (horses, dogs, cats, cattle, pigs, turkeys and chickens) or to treat minor species (MUMS). The individual award amount has been increased to a single funding level up to $250,000. The deadline to submit applications is August 16, 2019, through or the NIH ASSIST system. (FDA)

• EU – VETERINARY REGULATION The European Council and European Parliament representatives have agreed on new rules to enhance the availability of veterinary medicines. The proposed regulation will now be submitted to the European Parliament for a vote at first reading. If adopted, the new rules will be implemented by 2022 at the latest. The proposed regulation can be read at (Animal Pharm)

• US – ONE HEALTH The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the USDA and the US Department of the Interior (DOI) released a report from the One Health Zoonotic Disease Prioritization workshop held in December 2017. According to the report, priority zoonotic diseases in the US needing a multi-sectoral One Health approach are: zoonotic influenza viruses; salmonellosis; West Nile virus; plague; emerging coronaviruses, such as Middle East respiratory virus and severe acute respiratory syndrome; rabies; brucellosis; and Lyme disease. Diseases were ranked on their epidemic/pandemic potential and potential economic impact on the US. (Animal Pharm)

• US – ONE HEALTH U.S. Senators introduced a new bill directed at helping government agencies work together to prevent zoonotic diseases like avian flu and Lyme disease. The Advancing Emergency Preparedness Through One Health Act is based on the premise that human and animal health are linked, and that they should be studied together to help prevent disease. (

• UK – ASF RESEARCH Scientists at the UK’s Pirbright Institute have identified African swine fever (ASF) virus proteins capable of triggering an immune response in pigs, which they hope to use for the development of a vaccine. The study that showed when some pigs were challenged with a virulent strain of ASF after receiving a vaccine that included the identified proteins, virus level in the blood was reduced. (Animal Pharm)

• US – CHICKEN RESEARCH An international team of scientists, led by researchers at The Pennsylvania State University, discovered that a set of genes differentially expressed in two breeds of chickens can fight off, in varying degrees, Newcastle disease. Identifying the genes that help chickens survive Newcastle disease could help design breeding strategies that produce flocks that are more resilient and more productive. The researchers reported their findings in a recent issue of Scientific Reports. (Feedstuffs)

• US – ALLERGY RESEARCH Scientists at Purina have discovered how to safely neutralize the major cat allergen, Fel d1, in hair and dander by incorporating an egg product containing anti-Fel d1 antibodies into a cat’s diet. Up to 95 percent of reactions in cat allergen-sensitive people are caused by Fel d1. Ultimately this will reduce active Fel d1 levels in the environment without affecting the cat’s overall physiology. The research was presented by Purina scientists at the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology Congress 2019. (company press release)


This week we saw the announcement from Aquabyte, a start-up using underwater stereoscopic cameras and machine learning algorithms to improve the efficiency and profitability of fish farming, secured $10 million in series A funding. This will allow the company to both refine its current technological offerings which determine fish size, general health, and optimal feed quantity and expand those offerings to include estimations of fish appetite, automated feeding, and even predicting and detecting infectious disease outbreaks. This is another demonstration of the increasing value investors and animal health companies alike place on information and the application of artificial intelligence and informatics in animal health diagnostics, animal husbandry and veterinary medicine.

It occurs to me that these technologies are challenging us to redefine the way we have traditionally thought about animal health diagnostics. We used to think about animal health diagnostics by first compartmentalizing products and services as either livestock or companion animal, and then as university/reference lab or point of care within those compartments. Furthermore, in large part, we also thought the diagnostics world was limited to infectious disease, clinical chemistry/hematology, and imaging. The world has changed and is continuing to change dramatically.

In some ways it is imaging, specifically the ability to digitize, store, and accumulate huge and growing libraries of images containing countless examples of human verified, “normal versus abnormal” that has opened the door to image recognition algorithms and deep learning to support faster, cheaper, and more accurate analyses and diagnoses. Of course, this is just one example of the type digital information that can be collected and analyzed using these technologies.

To some, phrases like artificial intelligence, machine learning, and deep learning are met with angst, skepticism and real concern. Some of that concern comes from the belief that the veterinarian or other allied animal health professional will be replaced or otherwise marginalized by artificial intelligence technologies. I think the exact opposite is true. These technologies and the diagnostic applications they are functioning within should be viewed as tools that result in more accurate and reproducible diagnoses in less time. Client satisfaction and confidence in their veterinarian should grow along with along with clinic profitability. What do you think?

Mike McGinley

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