Zoetis India launches Apoquel–a

novel dermatology solution for canine pruritus

Zoetis India has recently launched Apoquel (oclacitinib maleate), a novel therapy for the treatment of pruritus (itching) associated with canine allergic dermatitis and clinical manifestations of atopic dermatitis. With this comes a first-in-class treatment choice for veterinarians in South Asia to take care for itch of allergic skin conditions in dogs.

Pratik Sharma

Pratic Pawar

Dr Dana Liska

Ranjith Nair

Apoquel is the first Janus Kinase (JAK) inhibitor approved for veterinary use in India. It relieves pruritus and improves skin lesions quickly and effectively, without the side effects associated with commonly used therapies such as glucocorticoids.

Apoquel was launched in a webinar on 11 th August, 2021, conducted by Dr Dana Liska, Sr. Derm Vet, Zoetis. She narrated the benefits of Apoquel, over other harmful or not so right products to treat itch, which definetly harm the vital organs. Vets across India participated in this launch session. Dr Dana walked the vets through the problem of itching, right way to itch diagnosis and treatment.

Canine pruritus is one of the most common complaints come from pet parents. It is affecting approximately one in every six dogs whose pet parents seek veterinary assistance. About half of all itchy dogs will have an underlying allergic skin condition for which Apoquel would be an ideal recommendation.

Without side effects
Pascal Prélaud, a dermatology specialist from Paris, who took part in the clinical development programme of Apoquel, said, “When a dog develops an itch related to an allergy, it can be life-disrupting for the pet and entire family. I’ve learned firsthand the fundamental  difference this treatment can make to a dog and his pet parents in stopping the itch, but without many side-effects that are common with steroids. Now, veterinarians have an effective, well-tolerated choice to offer pet parents.”

Apoquel has a unique and innovative mode of action, as it targets specific pathways of pruritus (itch) and inflammation, which makes it different to glucocorticoids. It is less likely to cause unwanted side-effects and also acts rapidly (demonstrating anti-pruritic efficacy within four hours) to reduce the itch, unlike cyclosporine which can take up to a month to control pruritus. “It will give me the time I need to find out what is causing the allergic dermatitis, to make a good diagnosis,” added Dr Pascal.

Culmination of dedication ingenuity
Dr Michael Stegemann, Senior Director of Veterinary Research and Development at Zoetis, said, “Zoetis is committed to providing treatments for conditions that affect the lives of pets and pet parents.” He added,” Apoquel is the culmination of more than a decade of dedication and ingenuity from Zoetis colleagues. We have been driven by our deep understanding of customers’ unmet needs, and our determination that we can make a difference to the quality of life of pets and their caregivers. Apoquel, in my mind, epitomises why we exist: to apply our expertise in science and innovation, and deliver solutions to our customers.”

Clinical trial results
In clinical trials, Apoquel demonstrated a good safety profile and efficacy for the treatment of pruritus and resulted in improved skin lesions in dogs diagnosed with a number of allergic skin diseases as well as atopic dermatitis and treated either short or long term. Pet parents noticed a decrease in itch scores as soon as 24 hours after administration, the first observation time point, and pruritus continued to decrease compared to baseline until the study ended. Skin lesions scores assessed by veterinarians were significantly improved after one week and continued to improve long term during the studies (four months).

In the field studies, the most common side-effects observed in dogs treated with Apoquel were vomiting and diarrhoea. Other reported side-effects included lethargy, decreased or lack of appetite, skin irritation or infection, and ear irritation or infection. The Apoquel safety profile is similar to placebo up to 16 days of treatment.

Development of Apoquel
Zoetis researchers have made major discovery findings around the mechanism of pruritus in allergic skin diseases, and the role of allergic, pro-inflammatory and itch cytokines that signal through the JAK pathway. Those findings supported the development of Apoquel. While many current therapies are broad- based agents, Apoquel presents an innovative mode of action that allows targeting of pruritus and inflammation at its source when associated with allergic skin disease. It is an inhibitor of the JAK enzyme, a protein that is integral to the signaling pathway of cytokines that are pro-inflammatory or have a role in allergic and itch response.

Its novel mechanism of action on the JAK enzyme is specifically designed to target the pruritogenic and pro-inflammatory pathways involved in the itch cycle, allowing effective reduction of allergic itch regardless of its cause, and improvement of skin lesions associated with allergic skin diseases and atopic dermatitis. Frequently used pruritus treatments have some drawbacks. In acute and chronic cases, steroids will effectively reduce pruritus, but their potential short-term side-effects (polydipsia, polyuria, polyphagia and panting) and potential long-term side complications (including pancreatitis, gastrointestinal ulceration, lipidemia, diabetes, muscle wasting and iatrogenic Cushing’s syndrome) and often complex dosing schedules can be a real challenge to both dogs and pet parents and limit their use.

Quick, effective sustained itch relief
Apoquel offers quick, effective, and sustained itch relief. It improves skin lesions and can be used for the short- or long-term. Apoquel will be available on prescription by a veterinarian only. Apoquel tablets,dosed at 0.4 to 0.6 mg/kg, are administered orally, twice daily for up to 14 days, and then administered once daily for maintenance therapy if medium- to long-term treatment is required, such as in dogs with seasonal skin allergy and atopic dermatitis.

Apoquel may be administered with or without food. During treatment with Apoquel, diagnosis and management of the underlying causes of the allergic dermatitis should be implemented as well. Apoquel has been used in conjunction with other medications including antibiotics, parasiticides and anti- inflammatories commonly used in dogs with skin diseases. Apoquel is now available for veterinarians in India and will be available in other South Asian countries soon.

Zoetis, as the world’s leading animal health company, is driven by a singular purpose to nurture the world and human kind by advancing care for animals. After nearly 70 years innovating ways to predict, prevent, detect, and treat animal illness, Zoetis continues to stand by those raising and caring for animals worldwide–from livestock farmers to veterinarians and pet parents.