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Agrimarketing : October 2012
44 Agri Marketing October 2012 Ihad mixed reactions when I was first asked to write this article on the past 50 years in animal health, but when I reflected on the request, I realized that there were not that many people who had spent their whole life in animal health. I started in animal health when I was a boy in South Dakota assisting my father and sometimes the local lay veterinarian keeping the animals and poultry healthy on our farm. When I went off to college, I had a part-time job working in an animal health distributorship which led me to full- time distribution sales and then to a manufacturers representative for a pharmaceutical company. So, yes, I've been participating in the business for over 50 years. IN THE BEGINNING When I walk down the inventory aisles in distributor warehouses today, I find few of the same brands or products that we shipped out to dealers and veterinarians in 1962. That was the era of chlorinated hydrocarbons for external control of flies, lice and ticks on both food and companion animals. The compound phenothiazine was used in various forms for drenching sheep and cattle for internal parasites. The most widely used product for control of round worms in swine was piperazine which was sold by the truck load in one gallon containers to be mixed in the swines' water. Many of the brands such as Cooper Tox and Cooper Extra were sold in one gallon glass and five gallon cans to be mixed in water for spraying on animals or put in rubbing devices for the control of various food animal parasites. In the Southwest, large cattle and sheep producers had 1,000 to 2,000 dipping vats that they filled with water and chemicals which they'd run the livestock through ever so often to control flies, ticks and lice. As crop agriculture developed new compounds for use in pest control, such as carbamates (Sevin) and organophosphates, these compounds were formulated so that they could be used in control of animal parasites both internal and external. These compounds were more efficacious for insect control and offered some safety features over the older compounds. In 1962, Rachel Carson published her book, "Silent Spring," which warned the public about the long term effects of misusing pesticides, challenged the practices of agricultural scientists and the government, and called for a change in the way humankind viewed the natural world. This book was widely read and debated and was largely responsible for fueling the environmental movement that we know today. SIGNIFICANT CHANGE The industry made a significant change for the better in parasite control in 1981 when Merck Animal Health (MSD Ag-Vet) introduced the new active ingredient ivermectin in various forms for the control of internal and external parasites. This class of products, known as avermectins, were revolutionary and provided improved control of a large number of parasites at much lower doses of active material along with a significantly improved safety profile to humans, animals and the environment. The introduction of the avermectin products immediately spurred competitors to find similar analogs of this compound which resulted in a number of additional new products entering the market. Just as important as these new compounds were the improved methods of application of the material to the animals which have, in many cases, eliminated old methods of treatment such as dipping vats. Today the "mectin" products remain the most widely used compound category in food animals; however, several have been generic for a number of years which has resulted in increased doses, but revenue has decreased to only 25% of what it was at the peak. During the 198's and 1990s synthetic pyrethroids were introduced into animal health. These new compounds were trying to improve upon the efficacy of the natural pyrethrium product which is made from the dried flower heads of Chrysanthemum cinerariifolium and Chrysanthemum coccineum. The natural product has a quick knock down but a short half life, so it needs to be applied often. Many formulations of both the synthetic and natural products are found in the marketplace today. In the early 1980s Zoecon Corporation developed the first insect growth regulator, methoprene, which was used for the control of many insects by preventing the eggs of the insects from hatching into viable adult insects. The methoprene compound is found in many combination products today for both large and small animals. In 1987, the ivermectin compound was introduced into the companion animal market by MSD-Ag Vet for the control of heartworms in dogs and cats. When the product Heartgard was launched, it was promoted heavily via consumer advertising to the pet owners; veterinarians were the source of the product because of the need for a heartworm test to determine whether or not the animal was already infected. This product and new approach to marketing was very successful, and Heartgard remains a leader in the category today even though there are generic products available. The Heartgard introduction represented the first time that a product being dispensed or sold by veterinarians was widely advertised in mass media to pet owners. This new approach to marketing products sold through veterinarians has been duplicated a number of 50 YEARS OF ANIMAL HEALTH by Ron Braake, President, Brakke Consulting, Inc. (more on page 46)
November December 2012