Understanding the bond & making a difference
Mary Pat Gorman
It’s about understanding the deep connection between people and their pets and striving to provide resources to the veterinarians to help improve quality and extend life and making it easier for pet parents to guarantee the health and wellness of their companion animals. In this respect, here is the insight from two Zoetis veterinarians: Andrea Wright, Director, Outcomes Research & International Health Economics and Mary Pat Gorman, Senior Medical Director, Commercial Development and Lifecycle Management – Companion Animal Dermatology and Parasitology. – Andrea Wright, Mary Pat Gorman
Making a difference
Mary Pat Gorman,says her role is in Commercial Development/Life Cycle Innovation involving product development and interfacing between the company’s R&D organization and global operational teams. “We provide commercial guidance to our R&D, so that they can work on drugs that are important for our customers and develop products that are useful and have value by veterinarians and pet parents.”The key difference she mentions is that the company’s R&D team specifically targets and invents the molecule for use in dogs and cats. Each drug is investigated and identified from amongst thousands of molecules and screened for specific benefits they provide for dogs and cats. Working in the area of outcomes research in health economics, Andrea Wright studies the economics and health benefits once the drug comes to market. “We launched Simparica in Brazil and it has been very successful to prevent flea, tick and treat diseases. Pet parents purchase it once a month through veterinarians and pet shops along with grooming and additional products. It has been quite beneficial and successful. Our approach for all our products is to focus on quality of life for both pets and pet parents. In this context, Mary Pat comments, “An example of this approach is that Simparica was developed as an oral, monthly chew. Pet owners tell us that giving this medication to their dog can be easy and create a bonding experience as many dogs take it like a treat.
Veterinarians and education of pet parents are fundamental
Andrea says that there are diseases transmitted from parasites; that’s why it is important to protect both pets and pet parents from these diseases. “Here, we are protecting the whole family and it is important that pet parents get education in prevention and protection measures,” she says, adding, “If we have to treat our pets from diseases caused by ticks and fleas, the analysis is that we have not done a good job in educating our pet parents on the need of these preventives. For us, veterinarians and education for pet parents are fundamental.” Mary Pat tells, “We look at the market for companion animals as an opportunity to predict, prevent, diagnose and treat diseases in dogs and cats. We do a lot of market research to get the perspective of veterinarians and pet owners about our products. Pet parents have told us they frequently look to veterinarians for education about the risks presented by parasites and what diseases they can cause. Pet parents say when they visit at the clinic, they expect the veterinarian will provide information on what the specific risks for their dog given their lifestyle and professional recommendation on what the best product is to use. Similarly, when pet parents have an itchy dog or cat, they expect veterinarians will discuss the therapeutic options with them to find the right solution for their individual pet – one that best works for their lifestyle and their individual dog. That is one of the reasons we developed both oral medications and long-acting injectable medications that treat itchy dogs. Not every solution works for every dog and owner.”
Quality of life—Pets, pet parents and veterinarians
Zoetis is investigating the effect of dermatological diseases, specifically itching on the quality of life of the dog and pet parents; and how the new therapies can improve the quality of life for both of them. Dermatological cases can lead to a lot of anxiety as it is difficult to see one’s pet suffering. “Veterinarian by understanding the dynamic of the human-animal bond and the different treatment options have learnt with our clinical training that this bond is so important and pet parents are looking for solutions. The solution that a veterinarian provides impacts not only the pet’s life but also the life of pet parents,” says Andrea, adding that it also impacts the veterinarians as they are able to provide a solution and have more satisfied pet parents come back to them for therapies when they notice healing. Mary Pat further mentions that they reinforce the relationship between veterinarians and pet parents, and enabling the partnership between them to positively impact pet wellness. “Many of the changes that have taken place in companion animal veterinary medicine in the last 30 years have been driven by the availability of new medicines, therapeutics designed specifically for dogs and cats. Products such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for arthritis and other painful conditions. The better the treatment options became, the more dogs were diagnosed and routinely treated. The innovations worked on in terms of pain medications, allergy medications and others truly elevate the quality of care that veterinarians can offer to their patients. Similarly, when I was in practice many years ago before systemic flea and tick medications were available, during the summer months a large number of dogs and cats I saw suffered from skin problems and itch related to flea infestations and allergies. It is very satisfying to know that the work we do has changed that dynamic and now veterinarians can effectively prevent flea infestations and relieve the itch they can cause in allergic dogs.”
Invest in education
Mary Pat says that professional education meetings like WSAVA is a great place to reach veterinarians; and be able to share research on new therapeutics with practitioners. It also provides an opportunity for veterinarians to share their clinical experiences with other veterinarians. ”Zoetis significantly invests in professional education on many levels.” Andrea added that these are great venues to present new scientific studies in the context of how it can be utilized clinically. And equally important are investments that make pet parents to help them recognize conditions that can now be effectively treated, directing them to their veterinarian for additional information.
Healing is all that matters
Mary Pat observed, “New therapies that positively impact the quality of life can transform the lives of dogs and their pet parents in very impactful ways. Dogs with arthritis often cannot climb stairs or jump into cars like they used to. With effective therapy of painful conditions, pet parents often report their dog acts like a puppy again. That can be very emotional for pet parents – and for veterinarians. These therapies can totally change the dynamic between pet parents and veterinarians.” In this context, Andrea says, “In our studies, when we spoke to different veterinarians they told us that they just love having happy pet parents come back. The veterinarians also felt so nice to get good feedbacks and see the results.”
Focus on innovation
Focus on innovative therapies like molecule antibodies… On this, Mary Pat comments, “These are non-pharmaceutical therapies that have the potential for application in large and small animals; and can be potentially used for a number of chronic disease conditions.”
Mary Pat adds that focus is on understanding the science of the disease when developing new products. “By investing in the science and first understanding the disease better, we are able to develop better therapeutics.” Andrea says they are much more for them to do. “Our focus is to make everything safer, targeted and long term,” she mentions, conclusively saying that it comes from the market feedback and the veterinarian advisory boards who gave them feedback – as to what is needed.
Continuous protection is critical
Tick-borne diseases can cause illness and even death in dogs and cats, so, continuous protection can be important.