Veterinary Medicines Industry

Veterinary Medicines Industry Industrial Veterinary Medicine is that sector of the veterinary profession concerned with the research, development, manufacture and marketing of veterinary drugs. The industry is composed of 2 segments: biologicals, ie, drugs derived from living organisms, including vaccines and serums; and Pharmaceuticals, ie, other drugs, including antibiotics, steroids, anthelmintics (deworming compounds) and anesthetics. The research, development and application of pharmaceuticals has differed from that of biologicals. With few exceptions, pharmaceuticals have been developed primarily to treat human diseases, and their application in veterinary medicine has been a sequel to their use as human drugs. Biologicals are disease specific and species specific drugs, and this exclusivity has resulted in the development of a veterinary biologicals industry discrete from its human counterpart.

Canada has made a number of significant contributions to the veterinary biologicals industry; for example, ERA rabies vaccine, used throughout the world, was developed by Aventis Pasteur Ltd, Toronto. ERA vaccine is a live, attenuated (ie, weakened) vaccine that contains a strain of rabies virus modified so that it will induce immunity in animals for up to 5 years, after a single injection. The vaccine has been conclusively demonstrated to be safe in a wide variety of animal species. In 1979 the Veterinary Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO) in Saskatoon developed a vaccine to protect calves against calfhood diarrhea caused by the bacterium Escherichia coli. This vaccine is unique in that it confers protection against disease-producing strains of E. coli by employing hairlike projections (pilli) on the surface of the cell as the immunizing agent. The antibodies produced by the mother in response to these pilli, which are passed to the calf in the colostrum (precursor of milk) during the first 5 days of life, prevent E. coli bacteria from attaching to the inner surface of the intestinal wall, a process which is necessary for the organism to produce disease. The first federally licensed vaccine in N America against Marek's disease, a cancerous complex affecting young chickens, was another Canadian contribution. Other Canadian innovations include an orally administered vaccine to protect swine against erysipelas (St Anthony's Fire), and a commercial technique for immunizing young chickens.

The world veterinary drug market was a $9.2-billion industry in 1986, of which Canada had a 1.9% share. The US, Japan and the UK are the leading countries in the industry. Drugs used as feed additives constitute over 75% of the Canadian market; biologicals make up the remainder. The Canadian industry is served primarily by a handful of manufacturers (Maple Leaf Foods Inc, Dispar Veterinary Products Ltd, Langford Inc, Sanofi Animal House and Vetrepharm Inc).