January 25, 2016
The popular anti-itch drug Apoquel, which remains in short supply two years after its release, should be freely available in the months ahead as Zoetis Inc. continues to increase production, according to company officials.
“Hopefully by this time next year we won’t be having conversations [like this],” said J. Michael McFarland, DVM, Dipl. ABVP, the company’s group director of companion animal marketing.
Dr. McFarland addressed several subjects during a media briefing this month at the North American Veterinary Community conference in Orlando, Fla. He was joined by Shelley Stanford, DVM, MS, MBA, the group director of companion animal veterinary professional services, as they outlined the Apoquel distribution strategy and how the drug compares with Zoetis’ newer Canine Atopic Dermatitis Immunotherapeutic.
Zoetis will gradually lift Apoquel purchase restrictions, McFarland said.
“We’re understandably concerned at this point in time that if we just open up the dike and let product flow that there could be some product hoarding,” he said. “It may be awhile before we know what the real, true pent-up demand for the product is, so we want to release the product in a more slow and steady manner.”
Why Zoetis has had trouble mass-producing Apoquel has not been revealed, but McFarland tried to reassure the veterinary profession that improvements are taking hold.
“We recently significantly increased the amount of product that was in the marketplace, the number of customers that have access to the product,” he said. “Hopefully as we increase … the amount of quote-unquote ‘safety stock’ that we have, we can slowly but surely continue to increase the amount of product that’s available.”
Apoquel (oclacitinib tablet) is a fast-acting daily drug for dogs at least 1 year old and is formulated to control itching in cases of allergic or atopic dermatitis. The newer, conditionally licensed Canine Atopic Dermatitis Immunotherapeutic is a monthly injection that may be used in any dog.
Given a choice, should veterinarians prescribe Apoquel or the monoclonal antibody? The immunotherapeutic is in the hands of 300 dermatologists and 100 general practitioners as part of a controlled rollout, Dr. Stanford said.
“To be very transparent and candid, we’re learning,” she said. “We’re working very, very closely with those veterinarians to get information back to understand how they’re using the product, how we may position the product—there’s just a lot of learning to be had.”
The real-world investigation is important, McFarland said.
“In this particular case, because you have two extraordinary products that are roughly in the same space, the conditional period will give us a lot of experience [and] understanding about exactly how veterinarians are going to prefer to use [them],” he said.
“Perhaps veterinarians will at some point figure out the different case types that they would prefer to use one method over another.”
In other news, Zoetis:
“Lyme is a serious and common disease that you want to help prevent rather than treat,” Stanford said.
“The label update for intravenous administration gives veterinarians more in-clinic flexibility for how and when we can treat patients with Cerenia, and this added flexibility is likely to improve canine surgical outcomes that ultimately benefit the animal by helping avoid complications such as aspiration pneumonia,” said Tamara Grubb, DVM, Ph.D., Dipl. ACVAA.
Dr. Grubb, speaking on behalf of Florham Park, N.J.-based Zoetis, is an assistant professor of anesthesia and pain management at the Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine.
Cerenia Injectable is indicated for the prevention and treatment of acute vomiting in dogs at least 2 months old and the treatment of vomiting in cats at least 4 months old.
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