The Value of Innovation

Innovations on the horizon in animal health can reduce the threat of disease through stronger immunity, improved prevention strategies, earlier and more specific diagnosis, and more accurate and effective treatment. Yet for all the promise of growing veterinary knowledge and expertise, it is taking animal health companies increasingly longer and becoming more expensive to bring new products to market.

Animal diseases never rest – they constantly evolve and trigger a ripple effect that impacts animal welfare, human health, and the economy. Disease outbreaks among livestock can threaten food security and trade, and increased pet ownership and companion animal bonding inspires the need for improved pet care solutions.

The animal health industry is investing in exciting innovations that will have a profound impact on animal health and welfare; see the comprehensive report on animal health innovation here.

Between 2000 and 2016, almost 360 animal disease outbreaks were recorded across 116 countries, causing enormous economic losses, impacting trade, and affecting global food security. Of these outbreaks, two-thirds were caused by just five diseases, including Avian Influenza, Foot and Mouth Disease, and African Swine Fever (ASF), highlighting the opportunities available to better target and manage livestock disease.

At the same time, pet ownership has skyrocketed across the globe. Over 50% of households in major markets currently own a pet, and in the U.S. pet ownership sits at 67% This has led to more veterinarian visits, which offers the opportunity for improved care to allow pets to thrive.

Scientific advances and emerging technologies provide greater opportunities to predict, prevent, diagnose, and treat animal illness more quickly, accurately, and safely. Artificial intelligence, stem cell therapy, and new generations of vaccines will all play a crucial role in how we care for and treat animals. Veterinary researchers and developers continue to break new ground in reducing disease spread and its impact. The result is untold potential to improve animal welfare, protect livelihoods, raising livestock more sustainably, and offer longer, healthier lives for pets in our home.

Cost of Innovation

While human drugs are developed for a single species, animal medicines are developed for seven major species plus dozens of other minor and exotic species.

Research is complex and rigorous, and the policy and regulatory environment that governs animal medicine presents challenges that can hinder the development of therapies to keep animals healthy.

The animal health industry works with policy makers and regulators to identify and execute approaches to address roadblocks to animal health innovation.

Animal medicines and health products are necessary to prevent, diagnose and treat disease across over fifty different animal species.

Developing innovations that are effective across this diverse landscape is a significant challenge, which is why a policy and regulatory environment that recognizes the unique characteristics of the animal health sector is essential. A new medicine or product can take anywhere from five to 15 years from first discovery until it is available to treat an animal. Animal health in general has less intellectual property protection, meaning the opportunity to recoup this investment is time-limited.

In the United States this problem is even more acute. In Europe, companies have 10 years data protection once a new product receives a “market approval.” In the U.S., data protection lasts just five years, much of which can be absorbed by the global standard-setting process. For example, establishing Maximum Residue Levels (MRLs) for trade is necessary before a product can be used by producers who wish to export. This means that by the time a product can be widely used, it may have already lost this exclusivity protection and faces generic competition before the innovator can obtain a return on investment.

Furthermore, once a product receives a market approval, Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) that are tailored to human health are often applied to the animal health sector. Without adapted GMP, an animal health product can face unnecessary requirements that may make it financially unfeasible to manufacture. Altogether, this has contributed to a downward trend in the number of new approvals in some markets. In the early 1970s, U.S. approval rates for new animal products were on par with those for human medicine. While the rate of approval for human medicines skyrocketed to a peak of more than 400 by the mid-1990s, approvals in animal health have dwindled below 50.

Delivering Sustainability

The health of all animals is inextricably linked to the wellbeing of people and planet. Healthier animals need fewer natural resources, allowing them to provide more food, labor, fertilizer, companionship, and assistance for less feed, water, and land. Their contribution is central to efforts toward achieving the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) by 2030.

Sustainable Benefits of New Vaccines

More effective vaccines and delivery mechanisms can help protect more animals against diseases, which means:

  • Protecting the livelihoods of the millions worldwide who rely on livestock (SDG 1, 8 and 10)
  • Reducing the need for antibiotics, which minimizes the risk of antimicrobial resistance and helps protect public and environmental health (SDG 3, 15)
  • Reducing the risk of zoonotic diseases passing from animals to people by preventing them in animals in the first place (SDG 3)

Sustainable Benefits of Alternatives to Antibiotics

Developing new products that prevent or treat bacterial infection while reducing the burden on antibiotics offers benefits for animal health and wellbeing, as well as:

  • Improving efficiencies in animal agriculture, which generates greater income for farmers (SDG 1 and 8) and produces more food for the global supply chain (SDG2)
  • Reducing the risk of antimicrobial resistance, which strengthens global public health (SDG3)
  • Reducing the potential impact of antibiotic use on the environment (SDG12)

Sustainable Benefits of Parasite Control

New methods for parasite control can help improve animal health and manage resistance to existing technologies, which can deliver sustainability improvements such as:

  • Greater productivity as a result of improved health (SDG1, 2 and 8)
  • Reducing the potential impact of parasiticide use on the environment (SDG 12)

Sustainable Benefits of Digital Technologies

Early detection of diseases and individually targeted treatments can bring several benefits for animal health and help support sustainable development, for instance:

  • Reducing costs associated with sick animals and supporting agricultural productivity around the world (SDG 1, 2 and 8)
  • Optimizing the use of labor and creating new opportunities for agricultural workers and youth (SDG 1 and 8)
  • Improving the accuracy of diagnostics and treatments, thereby reducing the need for antibiotics and helping protect public health (SDG 3)

Sustainable Benefits of Diagnostics

Improved diagnostics – remote as well as on-site – will help protect animals against severe disease, which also means:

  • Safeguarding the livelihoods of millions of people who rely on livestock (SDG 1, 2 and 8)
  • Reducing the use of antibiotics and thus helping minimize potential antimicrobial resistance – a major threat to public health (SDG 3)
  • Limiting the transmission of zoonotic diseases that spread between animals and humans (SDG 3)

Sustainable Benefits of Safe Development

Developing ways to test new drugs or treatments that require fewer animals can protect animal welfare, and make product research and development safer and more sustainable through:

  • Developing treatments faster and with more precision to protect agricultural livelihoods (SDG1 and 8)
  • Sharing knowledge of biomarkers across human and animal health (SDG3)
  • Reducing the cost and losses of live animals (SDG12 and 15)

Sustainable Benefits of Nutrition

Improving animal health through precision nutrition, feed additives, and biological parasiticides offers multiple benefits to animal health and wellbeing, as well as greater sustainability, such as:

  • Greater productivity as a result of improved health (SDG1, 2 and 8)
  • Increased levels of traceability for consumers (SDG12)
  • Fewer resources needed and lower emissions (SDG13 and 15)

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