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Inside Look on How New Veterinary Products Get to Market — Part 1

By Pam Foster
November, 2018

In September, the creators of 12 new veterinary products were invited to pitch their innovations to a committee of leading agricultural and animal health experts "Shark Tank" style. Their mission? To be selected for the coveted 2018 Animal Health Innovation Award at the 10th Annual KC Animal Health Corridor Investment Forum in Kansas City, MO.

According to a press release issued by the winner, “Each company was given ten minutes to present their company followed by a five-minute Q&A session with scientists and top executives from within the animal health industry. The event attracted over 1,000 animal health industry executives, venture capital firms, investors and potential partners.”

Inside Look on How New Veterinary Products Get to Market — Part 1

And the winner was… Torigen Pharmaceuticals, a company developing personalized cancer immunotherapies for veterinary patients. The company received a $10,000 prize and global recognition for its commitment to helping our industry provide better and more affordable animal cancer treatment options.

The release noted, “Select veterinarians throughout the U.S are currently using Torigen's experimental companion animal cancer treatment, which utilizes a portion of the patient's own tumor sent to Torigen's laboratory for creation of a personalized vaccine.”

As you consider this incredible solution, think about what that would mean to practices in your territory.

Could they use a treatment like this? Of course.

But the bigger question is, how do groundbreaking innovations like this get to market? 

How do they go from concept to delivery and then into the distribution sales network? 

Well, it all depends on the type of product.

Pharmaceuticals and food-related products are highly regulated and go through a lengthy trial and approval process. In fact, it can take and average of 12 years and up to $1billion to get a new drug from concept to approval and to market.*

The U.S. FDA (Food & Drug Administration) regulates these new products. Its article, “From an Idea to the Marketplace: The Journey of an Animal Drug through the Approval Process,” provides a complete, in-depth look at what it takes to gain approval for a product.

The quick overview includes these steps:

  • “The journey to drug approval begins with the drug sponsor (pharmaceutical company; scientific research group; government agency such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture; or academic organization, such as colleges and universities) having an idea about a new compound. Perhaps this new compound has certain qualities that may make it a useful drug to treat bovine respiratory disease in cattle. The sponsor researches and develops the new compound and conducts initial (“pilot”) laboratory studies on it for a specific use (called an “indication”) in a specific animal species (called the “target animal species”). In the example above, the indication is the treatment of bovine respiratory disease and the target animal species is cattle.
  • If the results of the pilot studies are promising and there is a potential market for the drug, the drug sponsor contacts CVM to officially start the drug approval process.
  • The sponsor submits a New Animal Drug Application (NADA) to the CVM (Center for Veterinary Medicine). The NADA includes all the information about the drug and the proposed label.
  • A team of CVM personnel, including veterinarians, animal scientists, biostatisticians, chemists, microbiologists, pharmacologists, and toxicologists, reviews the NADA. If the center's team agrees with the sponsor’s conclusion that the drug is safe and effective if it is used according to the proposed label, CVM approves the NADA and the drug sponsor can legally sell the drug.”

Pet food and treats go through a similar approval process with the FDA. 

For other products, such as toys, apparel, self-watering bowls, retractable leashes, and a wide range of other items, the process is much less complex. It’s still difficult for new products to be embraced by our market. Many never see the light of day. But as you know, each year there are hundreds (if not thousands) of new products debuting at trade shows and in distribution catalogs.

How do those products make it? 

John Cullen, Principal, Bulldog Marketing & Sales, Inc., is a product-marketing consultant who developed and execution multi-million dollar ad campaigns for brands like Pounce Cat Treats, Zoombak GPS Trackers, and JW Pet Company Inc. Now he helps new-product inventors get their products to the pet and veterinary markets and into distribution companies.

We asked him how product ideas get to market, and he said that it takes three main criteria:

1) It solves a real problem

2) It has proven demand

3) It’s ideal for distribution 

To get into distribution, John said the key is, “Using qualified reps that have access to the major vet distributors. It’s a highly fragmented channel… which means it’s very difficult to gain critical mass without a distribution partner. Reps have the relationship with the distributor to get you in front of the buyer.”

In part 2 of this blog post series, you’ll meet and hear from a pet-care product inventor who made it into distribution. And, you’ll find out how distribution sales reps learn about all the new products that make it into the market each year 


Topics: New Products, Products, DSR Facing Blog, FDA