Apoquel Anti-itch Drug Remains in Short Supply

More veterinarians are prescribing Apoquel, but Zoetis has little to say about continuing production issues.

Dog owners and veterinarians wondering when they can obtain the wonder drug Apoquel likely will have to wait awhile longer.

Zoetis Inc., which makes the anti-itch medication, has been dealing with enormous demand and undisclosed manufacturing issues since Apoquel (oclacitinib tablet) was launched in early 2014.

The Florham Park, N.J., company made good on a pledge to ramp up production by April 2015, but problems on the manufacturing end continue to limit the supply.

Zoetis this month reinstituted a ban on new orders from veterinarians, spokeswoman Colleen White said today.

“We have communicated to our customers an update to our supply plan, and as part of that we advised that we are temporarily not accepting new orders for Apoquel,” White said.

She declined to go into detail about the manufacturing issues and when they may be resolved.

“We’re committed to making Apoquel available to more new customers as soon as possible,” she said.

“We have experienced some challenges in the supply of Apoquel as we have pursued a rapid and large scale-up of production.”

More than 13,000 U.S. veterinarians have access to Apoquel, more than double the number who could offer it to clients and patients in 2014, White said.

The prescription drug is indicated for the control of itching associated with allergic dermatitis and the control of clinical manifestations of atopic dermatitis in dogs at least 1 year old. The tablets, which work by blocking the urge to scratch, are given twice a day for the first two weeks and daily thereafter.

Because of the manufacturing issues, not all dogs that start on Apoquel are guaranteed an uninterrupted supply.

“My dog has been on these since they came out as none of the other medications could keep the scratching at bay,” one owner wrote on the Veterinary Practice News website. “My vet has managed to give me their last few pills, but only the low dose and not the 16 mg she requires.”

“My Lab just went on these pills last month after being on the waiting list,” another owner wrote in late May. “So far it works great, but the bad news I called in his refill and I got the last 16 pills they have and they don’t know when they will get them in.”

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