Veterinary medicine offers many challenges to the scientist developing new dosage forms and medicines. These challenges arise from the diverse nature of the field, which covers a multitude of animal species that differ in size, habits, social behavior, etc.; farm management practices in which farmers may not have any direct contact with their flock or herd for many weeks or even months; and anatomical and physiological constraints that are peculiar to an individual animal species. These factors present the formulation scientist with a unique opportunity to develop innovative solutions to challenging and demanding delivery problems.
In the food animal pharmaceutical business, there are many issues that make the development of a veterinary dosage form particularly challenging. For example, the profit margins associated with the raising and selling of farmed animals are rather slim. As a result, it is not atypical for only a few cents per dose to make a large difference to the farmer's overall profit. Therefore, the formulation scientist must produce a product under considerable cost constraints. In addition, the product manufacturers must also accept that their profit margins will be slim. However, this situation can be used to justify the development of a controlled-release formulation for a drug that is administered on multiple occasions. This is because every visit of the veterinarian is associated with the cost of their time and expertise. This, together with the cost of rounding up individual animals for treatment, results in a cheap delivery formulation becoming an expensive treatment. Thus the more frequently a product needs to be administered (e.g., once a day vs. once a season), the overall cost of the treatment effectively increases. Innovative adjustments in a once-a-day administration to make it a one-time-only administration can vastly improve the costs of the overall treatment. Moreover, the development of a more complex controlled-release delivery system that delivers the active agent over an entire season has the potential to open huge areas of the market, allowing the handling of the animals only once, when they are turned to pasture.
The companion animal market is somewhat different in that the potential cost and profit margins associated with a product developed for a companion animal can be much higher compared with one developed for the food animal market. First, the companion animal owner does not own, and therefore does not have to treat, several hundred animals in their herd or flock. Rather, the outlay is directed toward a single animal. Second, the price of the delivery system is not determined by the profitability of the animal, but by the arbitrary value of the animal to the owner. Theoretically, therefore, the companion animal market will support the development of more complex and expensive dosage forms. Whether developing new products for livestock or companion animals, the challenges are always exciting and the scientific problem solving conducted to bring new medicines to the market can be fulfilling to the pharmaceutical scientists working in the veterinary medicine arena.
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