EC Antitrust Enforcers Investigating Maker of Leading Pain Medicine for Dogs

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EC Concerned Company Blocked Competing Product

The European Commission has opened a formal antitrust investigation to assess whether animal health company Zoetis may have breached EU competition rules by preventing the market launch of a competing novel biologic medicine used to treat chronic pain in dogs.

The company is based in New Jersey and is believed to own a considerable share of the U.S. market. Zoetis competes with Merck Animal Health (New Jersey); Elanco, part of Eli Lilly (Indiana); Boehringer Ingelheim (Germany); and Bayer Animal Health (multinational).

Zoetis’ Librela-brand product is the first and only monoclonal antibody medicine approved in Europe to treat pain associated with osteoarthritis in dogs. The medicine is administered monthly and offers a novel pain relief option, particularly relevant for older dogs.

The Commission summarized its concerns this way: “In parallel to developing Librela, Zoetis acquired another late-stage pipeline product for the same indication of pain relief, which was going to be commercialized in the European Economic Area (‘EEA’) by a third party. The Commission is concerned that Zoetis may have engaged in exclusionary behavior contrary to EU antitrust rules by terminating the development of this alternative pipeline product and refusing to transfer this pipeline medicine to the third party which in the EEA had exclusive commercialization rights.”

Virbac, a French company specializing in animal health, submitted a complaint against Zoetis in November 2020. The Commission carried out unannounced inspections at Zoetis’ premises in Belgium in October 2021.

In related news, the Wall Street Journal published a report suggesting Librela and Solensia (another Zoetis drug) sickened dogs and cats. Investors Daily reported the Zoetis (ZTS) stock “crumbled” following the WSJ report. The Food and Drug Administration approval Librella in 2022 and Solensia in 2023. “Health regulators in the U.S. and Europe have reportedly received thousands of reports of side effects. But Zoetis says less than 1% of animals who’ve received a combined 18 million doses of Librela and Solensia have experienced side effects,” according to Investors Daily.

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