Piedmont sets lofty goals for pipeline of 25 veterinary drugs

Piedmont Pharmaceuticals was founded in 2001 in Greensboro, NC, and has been operating largely off the radar since then. But that all changed on Wednesday, when the company put out an announcement stating a bold objective to be counted "among the top seven largest companion animal pharmaceutical companies in the U.S. by 2020."

Piedmont CEO Roland Johnson (right) with Hua Bai, CEO and chairman of Hisun Pharmaceuticals--Courtesy of Piedmont Pharmaceuticals

The company's founder and CEO, Roland Johnson, announced in a press release that Piedmont had hired a new vice president of marketing services: Stan Cruitt, a longtime animal health executive who is a veteran of Merck ($MRK), Ciba, and Novartis ($NVS). He also revealed that Piedmont has 25 experimental veterinary compounds in its pipeline, "with a steady stream of approvals expected annually through 2020."

Piedmont was short on details about the pipeline, but the company has already chalked up a few successes in animal health. It developed a fly-control compound for horses, Solitude, and licensed it to Pfizer ($PFE) in 2005. The product, which is contained in alfalfa pellets, is now marketed by Pfizer spinoff Zoetis ($ZTS). Piedmont has also developed a chewable drug-delivery platform for dogs and cats, according to the company's website.

Cruitt is the latest addition to Piedmont's growing ranks of animal-health veterans. Its management team also includes chief financial officer Michael Kelly, formerly of Novartis Animal Health, and Chief Scientific Officer Doug Helper, who was vice president of R&D at veterinary diagnostics maker Idexx ($IDXX).

The high-profile hires could certainly bring some attention to Piedmont, which has raised about $30 million in venture funding since its founding, including an $8.5 million Series B financing from Australia's CM Capital Investments. But continuing to win over investors in the flaky world of animal health could prove challenging for the company.

Consider the recent travails of Jaguar Animal Health, the Silicon Valley startup helmed by Lisa Conte, a veteran of biotech firms Napo Pharmaceuticals and Shaman Pharmaceuticals. Jaguar, which is developing gastrointestinal drugs for pets and livestock, filed to raise $70 million in an IPO, but postponed the offering earlier this month as shares of other animal health companies came under pressure.

- here's Piedmont's press release