Wednesday, 31 January 2007

George Gunn has – and please pardon the pun I can't resist it – certainly got his finger on the trigger over at Novartis. The company has clocked double-digit growth for the last two years running – making it the fastest growing animal health company in the top ten, and moving it from number eight to number five in the global rankings – just above Fort Dodge we believe.

Mr Gunn could well have an acquisition in his sights (apologies again ..). I wonder, considering he's loaded with a significant ammunition of Swiss Francs, which animal health division could well end up on his trophy wall. Funny how things turn out sometimes.

Thursday, 18 January 2007

It's always nice to be right. Our big story this week is Elanco finally launching its companion animal division – Lilly Companion Animal Health. Interestingly, one of the products that the company is getting ready to launch is a drug to treat separation anxiety for pets, as predicted in my previous post (below).

Anyway, this week is Animal Pharm's 25th anniversary, so we all went out for a nice quiet drink, as you will be able to see from the picture of myself and our publisher Helena.

For the special supplement I wrote an article looking back at the last 25 years of mergers in the Animal Health industry. This was a nightmare – I was up until 2am on press day finishing it off.

It's amazing how many of the major companies have completely disappeared – once-famous names like Pitman-Moore, Coopers and Hoescht-Roussel, and how many remain. Intervet, Pfizer and Boehringer-Ingelheim to name a few.

Animal Pharm made a few predictions along the years about what would happen to these companies, and some of them were way off the mark.

The best one was in 1996, when we predicted that Schering-Plough was the company most likely to sell off its veterinary division. Instead, it bought Mallickrodt – a company more than twice its size – and SPAH has been among animal health's biggest companies ever since.

It just goes to show what a dicey business making predictions is.

Thursday, 11 January 2007

"Cuddly" canines have got their podgy paws all over this week's animal health news, after Pfizer announced the approval of Slentrol, an obesity drug for dogs.

The ambiguously worded Pfizer release ("FDA approves first medication to combat canine obesity") led to a flurry of inaccurate news reports that Pfizer had gained the world's first approval for this new indication.

This provoked a rightfully angry response from Janssen, who did in fact get the first approval for a canine obesity drug Yarvitan in the EU last year.

And anyway, what sort of society are we that we care so little for our pets that we mistreat them by overfeeding and under-exercising? What sort of dog owners don't have time to take their pets for walks regularly? And should they be condoned? It's disturbing that, according to Pfizer, 40% of dogs are considered obese.

Who knows what will come next, a drug that will stop pets from feeling lonely so you only have to spend time with them when it suits you?? I wonder if that already exists (DAP??).

Disturbingly, one of the side effects of Slentrol is that it can cause canine anorexia. "No, you don't look fat, I promise Rover …"

And anyway, what about obese cats? There are a few well rounded cats rolling around the streets in my neighbourhood.

Monday, 8 January 2007

You'll see from the picture that Animal Pharm's Max Thomas was keeping an eye on things during the festive partying, making sure that nothing got out of hand.

There were some pretty major developments in animal health over the holidays, not least Bioniche receiving approval at last of its E coli vaccine. This is a major breakthrough in the industry and could clear the way for a whole new range of animal health products.

This has particular resonance for me as I managed to get food poisoning while I was away in France. This was horrible, but I'm sure you can imagine how bad it was so I'll spare you the details.

I'll prefix this next comment by saying that as the Animal Pharm France correspondent, I am definitely a Francophile and there are lots of things I like about France. However, why is it that I always seem to get food poisoning in France and Belguim??

I have lived in the UK for much of my life and never had food poisoning, but I have had it several times in France, and I know of quite a few people with similar experiences. I also visit the US and other European countries regularly and I have never had a problem. What is going on with retail food hygiene regulation in France?

Anyway, not the best start to 2007, but in the words of a UK political party's election broadcast song: "Things can only get better."

Friday, 15 December 2006


Well the Pfizer Brussels press event turned out to be a ball, and I ended up in the Grand Place with a journalist from the UK's Farmers Guardian at a bar called the coffin. We had to walk down a dark passageway to get to the bar, and inside there were actual coffins used as tables. Very louche.

It has been a week of endings and new beginnings at Pfizer. When I got back from Brussels I had a call from Pfizer PR veteran Bob Fauteux – announcing that he was retiring from his post at the head of the communications department in New York.

Mr Fauteux has been a regular caller into the office for as long as anyone here can remember. Bob's attention to detail was legendary, and he will be greatly missed by all of us in London and New York.

Apart from that bombshell, we have been going a bit mad getting an issue ready for the new year. Our press deadline is January 2nd for issue 604, so we've pulled out all the stoppers to get everything arranged and in its proper place - as I'm sure most of you can't wait for the festive period to be over so you can go back to work and get stuck into the latest issue of Animal Pharm.

Despite most of the staff here calling me Scrooge, I've decided not to mention Christmas this year, so I'm afraid there'll be no snow-covered Animal Pharm banner, and you won't find any pictures of bells and holly.

I'm personally sick of being bombarded with the unsavory shopping-fest that Consumas has turned into, and I'm certain that our unfestive policy will not detract from your enjoyment of our publication. So, I'm afraid no Christmas greetings from the Animal Pharm team this year. (BTW my rancor might have something to do with the fact that my birthday is on December 25th, but this is neither the time nor the place to go into that ...)

Despite all this, I'd like to say thankyou to those who have sent in Christmas cards, we do appreciate your gesture and have hung them up over the Animal Pharm desk.

Monday, 11 December 2006

Benjamin Franklin

I'm off to meet the Pfizer swine team in Brussels for an announcement relating to that sector. I will of course appraise you of any developments in the Animal Pharm daily breaking news alert as soon as I can.

I look forward to meeting Greg Otto and his team, I last met them in New York when Pfizer was announcing the global release of Improvac. They took out for a very memorable meal in a restaurant right overlooking Times Square.

Pfizer is good at choosing interesting restaurants. Back in November I had a very enjoyable couple of days at Pfizer's Paris headquarters for the launch of Convenia. We were taken out to Le Procope, apparently Paris' oldest café. According to a plaque on the wall, Rousseau, Biron, Diderot, Voltaire, and Verlaine cooked up ideas for the French revolution there. Apparently another American was also an habitué - Benjamin Franklin – who's death in 1790 caused the café to go into mourning for three days.

Both of these trips were thanks to Pr man Mike Keeler. I'll let you know what Mr Keeler has organized for this event when I get back.

I'd also like to pay tribute to our new deputy editor Sita Shah, who – as I'm away for our press day (Tuesday) is putting the whole issue to bed in just her third week in the job. Sita is a very experienced journalist from our sister paper in the human health sector _ Scrip, which many of you will know. I wish her the best of luck over the next couple of days …

Tuesday, 5 December 2006


Here at Animal Pharm we've all been getting excited about our new blogs – we've been studying the webstats and have come up with some interesting facts. Firstly, which company is it in Brentford, UK, that has been visiting our website … whoever you are, welcome. We've also had visitors from across the US, Tunisia in North Africa, and Sao Paolo, Brazil.

So remember, wherever you're visiting from – we're watching you …. I'll be providing any interesting updates in the next post.

A number of companies have been getting to the point this week in biologicals, with both SPAH and Merial announcing significant launches. We've just received a press release from SPAH that they've made the first ever launch of two new canine vaccines. One for parvovirus with a four-year duration of immunity, and one for leptospirosis. This follows hot on the heels of an announcement by Merial that it has launched a new Recombitek Equine Influenza Virus vaccine in the US.

I recently spent a very enjoyable evening with the friendly people at the UK's Association of Veterinarians in Industry. The meeting included a fascinating presentation from world leading ape expert Ian Redmond (pictured) who explained that we were damaging ape habitats by consuming palm oil.

As a result of the meeting, I'm trying to convince our management team that Animal Pharm should sponsor a chimpanzee.

The AVI meeting finished with a good old knees-up, but as the wine was flowing as freely as the conversation, my memory is a little hazy of how everything actually wound-up. All I know is that I woke up with a headache and a sponsor a chimp form