Concerns over the future of the NZ animal health industry

BiotechNZ is raising concerns over the direction of the animal health industry in New Zealand


The three largest veterinary pharmaceutical companies operating in New Zealand, Elanco, Boehringer Ingelheim, and Zoetis, are moving away from developing products for cattle and sheep, BiotechNZ executive director Dr Zahra Champion says. 

They are instead moving towards poultry, pigs, and companion animals. Zahra says Boehringer Ingelheim has also closed their manufacturing operation in Auckland.

"This leaves New Zealand and Australian farmers potentially without the innovation they need in agricultural pharmaceuticals and biotech.  

"If Aotearoa wants to get into innovative agricultural pharmaceuticals, it’s going to come from the smaller biotech firms and locally owned businesses. This is a significant issue for New Zealand farming systems. 

"Our animal health industry is looking with cautious eyes at the advancement of animal welfare organisations lobbying against specific farming practices while they are trying to understand the direction that the plant-based and alternative proteins industries.

"The global animal health pet industry is huge and has grown rapidly since the beginning of the COVID pandemic.

"People felt the loneliness of lockdowns and spent more time with their pets and invested more money in keeping them safe and healthy. However, the animal health for the food production animals is continuing to constrict. 

"The changes being made by Elanco Animal Health, Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health, and Zoetis may well impact New Zealand directly and should be a concern for farmers and vets in New Zealand and Australia.

"Elanco Animal Health closed their research and development facilities in New Zealand after acquiring Bayer Animal Health, to name a few.

"With New Zealand farming systems cantered on sheep and cattle, this raises concerns about how this crucial New Zealand industry will be supported in the years to come.

"There are smaller animal health companies that are taking these changes seriously. Alleva Animal Health, a local New Zealand player in the animal health industry, is gearing up to meet this potential demand.

"There is room for growth for New Zealand companies developing products to target local issues independently of the big pharma corporations marketing strategies. The level of investment in product development in NZ should grow to cover the loss or the decreased input from big pharma."  

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