2014/03/24 - Products

Australia: developing the ruminants vaccines of the future

ruminant.jpgViva VIVID! summer 2013, Virbac Australia opened a new R&D centre in Penrith surrounded by those involved in the local animal health industry. A key event for the development of the subsidiary’s biological activity in food producing animals. Explanations by Robert Dempster, the local RDL manager.

What does the acronym VIVID stand for?
Literally, Virbac Innovation in Vaccines and Industrial Development. This is the new R&D centre opened by Virbac Australia last June on the Penrith site. This opening is an important step for the subsidiary, not only does it ensure the continuity of the existing product range, but it will also be used to develop new vaccines for ruminants.
Why this segment in particular?
With an average annual growth of over 10%, the vaccine market has real potential in Australia. There are several reasons for this, firstly, unlike sales for parasiticides which are highly dependent on climate conditions; sales of vaccines are relatively stable over time. Secondly, this is a market with few competitors where there are just two other companies apart from Virbac, MSD and Zoetis. Finally, there is relatively little innovation due to stringent regulation related to exotic disease control.
In light of this, what are the VIVID centre’s objectives?
There are two. Firstly and generally, to develop new products in order to complement our offer on ruminant vaccines and parasiticides thus providing a comprehensive range of solutions for cattle and sheep. Indeed, with the exception of the leading vaccine, Cydectin® Eweguard®, which is unique on the market since it is combined with a parasiticide, the cattle/sheep range is mainly comprised of vaccines broadly similar to those already on the market. We then specifically want to create innovative vaccines that satisfy the current and future needs of farmers and veterinarians, for example offer original combinations of principle active ingredients or improve product convenience by reducing the number of injections required.
What about human resources?
Firstly we need to form a team dedicated to the development of vaccines within the centre. In June, we recruited two PhD scientists specialising in biology. The team will gradually be expanded with the aim of increasing the number of projects being worked on. Furthermore, the VIVID centre will also house the industrial development teams. This should help to speed up the registration and release to market of the vaccines due to improved cooperation with the R&D teams on industrial transfer processes. The presence on the Penrith site of employees dedicated to supporting existing products is another lever for innovation, which will facilitate the sharing of experiences with the product innovation R&D teams. Finally, we want to strengthen our partnership with strategic entities such as universities, biotechnology companies and farming associations.
Are there any other challenges associated with the opening of the centre?
Yes. We have a major project to develop in-vitro tests as part of the development of vaccines. The objective is not only to find alternatives to animal studies on an ethical level, but also to improve efficiency in order to reduce the time to market for vaccines. In conclusion, with this new centre complementing our other pharmaceutical sites in Crookwell and Macquarie Park, and the support of the local regulatory authority, the APVMA, Virbac Australia has a real opportunity to become the national leader on the ruminant vaccines segment.