Merial has entered the $150 million a year veterinary pet nutraceutical market with the launch of SUPLENEO flex in Germany, Italy and the UK. This veterinary channel product complements Merial’s coxib NSAID PREVICOX®, which is licensed for pain relief associated with osteoarthritis and surgery. Future launches of SUPLENEO flex in other markets are being considered.
Merial’s Vincent Krogmann (Director Pet Pharmaceuticals, Global Strategic Marketing) said: “SUPLENEO flex was developed by Merial R&D specifically for dogs; it is not an off-the-shelf product. We know from US and UK data that 10–20% of dogs seen by veterinarians suffer from joint issues. It’s even higher for large dogs. For those veterinarians who favor a multi-modal approach to the treatment of canine osteoarthritis, SUPLENEO Flex provides a new option.”
The knowledge that natural tocopherols can assist in pain management was important in persuading Merial that it could improve on what was already in the market place. Gamma-tocopherol, which forms two-thirds of the tocopherol content in SUPLENEO flex, has proven COX2 inhibition qualities, while alpha-tocopherol—a further fifth of the total—is an anti-oxidant.
Although Merial quickly knew that its veterinary supplement would comprise mixed tocopherols together with the cartilage-building chondroitin and glucosamine, developing a finished product was not straightforward. Said Jean Delaveau (Director, Pharmaceutical External Development, R&D): “Dogs will not eat a dietary supplement every day if it is not palatable. Our canine expert tasters made it clear that our final, soft-chewable product delivers on that point; it was preferred to competitors in controlled trials.”
Another key requirement for Merial was consistent manufacture and high quality products. Project Leader Niranjan Banav said it took six months to find a specialized toller who could meet Merial’s expectations. “We approached this project with rigor similar to our pharmaceuticals and vaccines” he said.
As well as delivering the beneficial ingredients as stated, Merial insisted on a Compliance Certificate from the toller to confirm the absence of potential contaminants, which can be found in the natural raw materials. “We then fully test each batch to ensure the quality is as it should be,” said Banav. “As a result, we know that SUPLENEO flex not only delivers its benefits to dogs, but is also free from Salmonella. The limits for E. coli, Salmonella sp., yeasts and molds, or heavy metals are within the same specifications demanded for human dietary products.”
Merial is a world-leading, innovation-driven animal health company, providing a comprehensive range of products to enhance the health, well-being and performance of a wide range of animals. Merial employs approximately 5,600 people and operates in more than 150 countries worldwide. Its 2010 sales were more than $2.6 billion.