Spotlight On... AB Science's Kinavet cancer drug for dogs loses FDA marketing authorization; Zoetis hikes dividend by 14.5%; Parnell boosts its board; Benchmark acquires INVE Aquaculture; and more...

France's AB Science suffered another setback in its years-long effort to gain traction for its lead compound, masitinib, which it has been developing for both veterinary and human medicine. The company has been selling a version of the drug, called Kinavet, to treat mast cell tumors in dogs for the last 5 years under a conditional approval from the FDA. But on Dec. 15, the agency announced that the marketing license was no longer in effect. The reason? AB Science missed its deadline for providing data to the FDA required to obtain full approval. AB has a study underway in 150 dogs, and an interim analysis "showed statistically significant superiority" over placebo in the time it took for the skin cancer to progress, according to a press release from the company. AB is collaborating with the FDA to finish the study and gain full approval for the product next year, it added. The drug remains on the market in Europe, where it sells under the brand name Masivet. AB said it does not expect the loss of U.S. Kinavet sales to affect its financial results, since the product had only reached the break-even point. Release

> Zoetis ($ZTS) declared a dividend for the first quarter of 2016 of $0.095--a 14.5% boost from 2015's quarterly dividend rate--payable March 1. Release

> Parnell Pharmaceuticals ($PARN) announced that it has expanded its board of directors to 6 members, with the appointments of Ellen Richstone, who will head the audit committee, and David Rosen, who will chair the nominating and governance committee. Release

> Benchmark Holdings announced that it will acquire INVE Aquaculture Holding B.V., a maker of nutrition and health products for farmed fish, for $342 million. Release

> The European Medicines Agency (EMA) announced it has adopted its "network strategy to 2020," which is partially aimed at increasing the availability of veterinary medicines and easing the administrative burden for developers of animal medicines. Release

> Land O'Lakes has launched PMI Nutritional Additives, a new business within its animal nutrition unit that will focus on developing products to improve nutrient utilization and gut health in food animals. Release

> A team of European researchers led by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich have published a paper in the journal Science showing that their experimental vaccine successfully reduced the viral load of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in camels, potentially reducing the risk of the illness being passed to people. Release

> Sumitomo announced that it will expand its marketing of livestock vaccines and drugs in China by taking a 25% stake of Shandong Sinder, which makes drugs for chickens and pigs. Story

> Conservation groups in the U.S., Mexico and Canada are working together to combat the entry and spread in North America of Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans, a fungus that has caused mass deaths of salamanders in Europe. Article

> Manna Pro Products of Missouri announced it is purchasing the nutrition brands Nutri-Vet and Petnology Essentials and will be incorporating them into a separate business called Nutri-Vet Wellness, along with other brands. Article

> Brucellosis, a bacterial infection that causes reproductive issues in cattle, has been detected in a Wyoming herd that has now been quarantined. Article

> Researchers from the University of British Columbia and the University of Saskatchewan have been awarded $5.2 million from Genome British Columbia, Genome Canada and other funding agencies to develop vaccines for bovine tuberculosis and Johne's disease. Article (reg. req.)

> Denmark's ALK announced it will divest its European veterinary business under an agreement with the Swedish investment company Fidelio Capital, the value of which has not been disclosed. Release

> Researchers at the University of Utah have published a paper in the Journal of Applied Ecology predicting that Darwin's finches in the Galapagos Islands are at risk of extinction because of parasitic flies, but that pest-control efforts could be used to prevent their demise. Release

> PetSmart announced it is recalling some lots of Mars Petcare's Nutro Chewy Treats Apple because of potential mold. Release