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The new canine anti-itch drug Apoquel is in such high demand and short supply that some veterinarians are unable to prescribe it.
The manufacturer, Zoetis Inc. of Florham Park, N.J., reported that the shortage may continue until mid-2015, about 18 months after the only Janus kinase inhibitor formulated for veterinary use hit the U.S. market.
Apoquel (oclacitinib tablet) is given twice a day for the control of itching associated with allergic dermatitis and the control of clinical manifestations of atopic dermatitis. A clinical trial of dogs suffering from allergic dermatitis found that the drug was effective within 24 hours.
The drug's success—Apoquel may be given once a day for maintenance purposes after two weeks—has dog owners and veterinarians eager to try the medication. But some practitioners, like Tim Hunt, DVM, of Bayshore Veterinary Hospital in Marquette, Michigan, can't get their hands on it.
"I would like to try Apoquel, as all the info seems to be glowing, but have been unable to get any," Dr. Hunt said. "I have clients asking often about this drug but have not been able to personally prescribe any to date."
The demand and a "complex, time-consuming manufacturing process" means the drug cannot be produced fast enough, said Steve Leder, senior vice president of Zoetis' U.S. Companion Animal Division.
"Since the launch … on Jan. 20, Zoetis has experienced a significantly higher than anticipated volume of orders due to extremely high veterinary community demand for this innovative new medicine," Leder said.
Zoetis is rejecting orders from new customers as it works to accelerate production.
"Our top priority continues to be to ensure that patients currently being treated with Apoquel can continue to receive the product without interruption," Leder said.
"Zoetis is aggressively working to make Apoquel available to all dogs that need it, and we appreciate your patience as we work through this situation."