Animal Health Products and Veterinary Market (Developing Veterinary Drugs and Biologics)

Veterinary medicine is a multi-billion dollar market. In the United States, there are an estimated 150 million dogs and cats. In recent years, an increasing number of biomedical companies (biotech, pharmaceutical, biopharmaceutical, medical device, and diagnostic) have initiated efforts to advance their technologies and/or services into the animal health market. This serves two primary purposes, being to generate revenue and often obtain valuable data capture.

Misconceptions:

The process is simple. The process to get a veterinary product approved is not simple, and often requires years of work to obtain the necessary data to obtain an approval and support the product in the market.

The process is cheap. The costs do develop veterinary drugs or biologics is not cheap, and can range from several hundred thousand dollars to tens of millions, depending on the species, disease, etc.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates all animal products: The FDA-Center for Veterinary Medicine regulates drugs. However, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) – Center for Veterinary Biologics regulates diagnostics, vaccines, immune based products (immune modulators and immune stimulants), and immunoglobulin products. In addition, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates topical ectoparasitic products like topical flea and tick control.

How to Develop and Animal Health Product:

We advise seeking an expert in the field. Far too often, someone tries to develop a product for veterinary medicine only to find out they did not have the expertise or understanding (regulatory, market, etc.) to effectively develop the product. There are several consulting groups that can advise on how to develop veterinary products or those for the pet market. Some consultants may limit their services to regulatory affairs, while others may focus more on clinical trials or marketing. Finding a group which satisfies your needs is important.

What are the Biggest Markets:

This is often hard to define. Companion animals (dogs, cats, horses) often represent the largest spending per species per visit. Livestock (cattle, swine, poultry) represent the largest volume but the economic pressures are often far greater per animal. Minor species (ferrets, rabbits, etc) is a growing market, and the FDA has recently enacted the Minor Use Minor Species Act (MUMS Act) to facilitate the develop of drugs for these species.

How to get Started:

1. Define the regulatory path: The first step is to understand which regulatory agency will oversee the development of the technology or service. Once this is defined, it will set the foundation for the necessary clinical trials, manufacturing, labeling, promotional materials, and other aspects that will define the product or service. If you are not certain of which group will have oversight of the regulations, you should consult with an expert to help define your regulatory strategy.

2. Define the clinical path: Next, determining which trials (GLP, GCP) in target species will be required to support label claims and the approval. Don’t assume that previous lab animal work or unapproved studies will support your approval process.

3. Define the market strategy and economics: After the regulatory path, clinical path, and timeline are estimated, it is very important to understand the economics of the market you are proposing to go into. The concept that pet owners will spend anything on their pets is a huge mistake. There is a limit, as with any market, on the cost of treatment. Constructing the financial justification will help avoid financial mistakes and raise the confidence that the project will meet financial metrics (ROI, NPV, etc.).

Five Proven Ways to Obtain Discount Veterinary Services

Tired of paying full retail price for your pet’s veterinary care? You don’t have to if your veterinarian gives you a discount on his/her services. And just how do you get that discount? Here are five proven ways to go about it.

1. Shop For It

If you’re looking for discount veterinary services, pick up the phone book or log onto your computer and price shop the various clinics in your area. Inquire about any and all price breaks the practice may offer to select clients. For example, discounts are commonly offered to military personnel (active and retired), police officers, firefighters, multi-pet owners, senior citizens, and students. In addition, many vets will slash fees for rescue organizations, kennels, and people who foster pets.

2. Ask For It

Let’s say your veterinarian doesn’t offer a formal price concession on a particular product or service, yet you really don’t want to leave the practice to search for discount veterinary services elsewhere. What to do? Simple. Ask for a discount. For example, ask for a free heartworm test in exchange for purchasing a year supply of heartworm medication. You’ll be amazed at how many vets will jump at this “deal”.

Here’s an insider tip: Most veterinary practices maintain pet charity funds that the doctors can use to forgive all or part of a client’s bill. Veterinarians are very empathetic individuals. It’s the nature of the profession. Oftentimes, when a client is faced with a life-or-death decision involving a seriously injured or ill (yet curable) pet, finances will weigh heavily on that decision. In these instances, it’s not uncommon for the veterinarian in charge of the case to discount veterinary service fees in order to treat the pet and thereby avoid euthanasia. In the veterinarian’s mind, it’s a win-win for everyone involved.

3. Work For It

For amazing veterinary discounts, consider working part-time or full-time at a veterinary clinic. Most hospitals and clinics offer price breaks to employees who have worked for the practice for a specified period of time. And those savings can be significant. For example, one clinic in Houston, Texas offers a 50% discount on vaccinations and heartworm preventative to employees after three months of work, and after five years of employment, all services are free and all medications are offered at cost. Not bad, huh?

As an added bonus, working for a vet will sharpen your knowledge and skills when it comes to veterinary care. You’ll learn how to assess a pet’s health status and learn techniques such as physical therapy, deep ear cleaning, giving injections, giving parenteral fluids, and other skills that you could conceivably apply to your own pet(s) at home. Not only that, for those with the entrepreneurial spirit, learning these new skills could very well open up a lucrative source of secondary income as a pet sitter or home hospice veterinary nurse.

4. Trade For It

There are two ways to trade for discount veterinary services. The first is through bartering. If you have a particular skill that could prove useful to your veterinarian, talk to him/her and see if you can set up some type of bartering arrangement. For example, do you have sales and marketing expertise? If you can offer your veterinarian practical tips on how to market and promote his/ her practice, a barter arrangement is probably only a handshake away. Are you a landscaper, carpenter, plumbing, or handy with tools? If so, you are a valuable asset to any business, especially a veterinary clinic. The possibilities are endless. Just ask.

A second way to trade for discount veterinary services is by volunteering at a veterinary practice. In other words, trade your sweat equity for a discount. It’s not uncommon for clinics to offer the same discounts to volunteers as they do to employees (the one in Houston does). Volunteer work can involve general practice maintenance, kennel help, technician work, accounting, or front office assistance. It’s a rewarding endeavor and one that can prove to be valuable even if you’re not receiving a paycheck.

5. Plan For It

Plan your pet’s elective health care procedures around discount veterinary initiatives promoted by national, state, and local municipalities and organizations. For instance, February is considered Pet Dental Health Month. Veterinarians usually offer nice price breaks (sometimes as high as 50%) on dental procedures during this month, so it makes sense to have your pet’s annual teeth cleaning done in February. Also, October is National Pet Wellness Month; many practices offer reduced fees on preventive health care during this initiative. And there’s more. March is Pet Nutrition Month, April is Heartworm Awareness Month, World Veterinary Day is usually the last Saturday in April, National Pet Week is in May, World Rabies Day is in the Fall…the list goes on.

In addition to these broad scale promotions, many counties and local municipalities hold periodic rabies drives, low cost spay/neuter clinics, and low-cost pet microchip clinics. The discounts on these veterinary services can be substantial, so contact your county or local health departments to find out when these special events are to be held.

There you have it. Five ways to land discount veterinary services. Applying this knowledge in your own quest for a price break can yield big dividends. By shopping for it, asking for it, working for it, trading for it, and planning for it, you’re sure to obtain a discount that will put a smile on your face!