Animal pharmaceuticals are primarily used to treat or prevent diseases or infections. Both vaccines and pharmaceuticals are needed to keep animals healthy; while vaccines exist for some conditions, pharmaceuticals are still needed to treat some diseases and infections similar to human healthcare.
Because animals can’t take their own medications like humans can, animal pharmaceuticals come in a variety of forms to allow the owner or veterinarian to administer the needed medications. These forms include pills, liquids, injections, powders, “drenches” (drenching the animal in a liquid form of the pharmaceutical), “feed additives” (putting it in their food), or “boluses” (a large pill designed for veterinary use).
Types of Pharmaceuticals
Pharmaceuticals encompass a broad range of products, including anti-parasitic drugs, anti-inflammatory medications, anesthetics, pain medications, antibiotics and specialized products used to manage reproductive, cardiovascular or metabolic conditions. Veterinarians are trained in the diagnosis and proper treatment of diseases in animals, and should always be consulted and involved in decisions to medicate animals.
Pharmaceuticals are regulated by the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine. The standards and processes for reviewing pharmaceuticals used for animals are the same in most respects as those used for reviewing pharmaceuticals intended for humans.
Time and Cost to Market
Demonstrating that a new pharmaceutical for use in animals is safe and effective is scientifically rigorous, time and resource intensive prospect. A 2015 study of the US domestic market by HealthforAnimals found that on average when developing a new active ingredient it takes 6.5 years and $22.5 million to bring a new companion animal pharmaceutical to market and 8.5 years and $30.5 million for a new pharmaceutical product for livestock. These are averages and costs of over $62 million were seen. Overall development costs have increased by more than 50% since 2011.