| CHICAGO, Sept 3
CHICAGO, Sept 3Zoetis Inc, the world's
largest animal-health company, has received a conditional
license from the U.S. Agriculture Department for its vaccine
against a deadly piglet virus and will begin selling it this
month in the United States, the company said on Wednesday.
Zoetis, which was spun off from drugmaker Pfizer Inc
last year, joins a growing push by both the agriculture and
pharmaceutical industries to combat the spread of porcine
epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDv), which has killed about 13
percent of the U.S. hog herd over the past year.
Company officials did not say how much the vaccine will
The new vaccine comes as veterinarians warn that outbreaks
of the virus are expected to surge this fall and winter because
PEDv thrives in cold weather.
Zoetis' new product means that hog farmers now have two PEDv
vaccine options. Earlier this year, USDA granted a similar
conditional approval to Iowa-based Harrisvaccines for its PEDv
Merck & Co. Inc's animal health unit is also working
on a PEDv vaccine.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture could not immediately be
reached for comment.
The fast-moving virus has killed an estimated 8 million
piglets since it was first identified in the United States last
year, pushing U.S. pork prices to record highs.
The conditional license will allow Zoetis to sell the
two-dose inactivated vaccine directly to veterinarians and hog
farmers alike, for use on healthy pregnant sows, while the
company continues to conduct further tests both in research
laboratories and in field tests at customers' farms.
Zoetis declined to comment on the company's ongoing
research, how successful the vaccine has been in reducing
mortality rates in baby pigs or what field tests have shown so
"We have proven at least some efficacy of those antibodies
produced with the sow of being transferred to the baby piglets,"
Gloria Basse, vice president of the company's U.S. pork
marketing, said in an interview.
The company said it is also exploring new international
markets for the vaccine, as concerns over the virus fueled
contamination fears among U.S. trading partners and prompted a
four-month ban on U.S. imports of live pigs into China.
Zoetis is exploring what documentation and research data
would be required by various government regulatory bodies to
roll out the vaccine - or a similar product - in Canada, Mexico,
Japan and parts of Asia, including Korea, Vietnam and Thailand,
said Catherine Knupp, president of research and development.
"Really anywhere there's a customer need, that's where we
are going to be involved in the discussion around product
relevance," Knupp said, noting the company would "look for local
partnerships" for such projects.
(Additional Reporting By Tom Polanse; Editing by Jo
Winterbottom and Jonathan Oatis)