Spotlight On... Currency woes overshadow Merck's 2015 growth in animal health; Merial announces key exec appointments; Zoetis charts FDA approval in equine health; Orion reports strong growth in animal health; and more...

Merck ($MRK) reported that sales in its animal health unit fell 6% year over year to $830 million in the fourth quarter of 2015, which included a 14% negative impact from foreign exchange rates. The full-year picture wasn't much brighter: Revenues fell 4% to $3 billion. But Merck's animal health unit is still expanding, with demand for its products to treat companion animals on the rise, as well as continued growth in its aquaculture and swine lines. Minus the impact of currency woes, 2015 sales of animal health products were actually up 9%, thanks largely to strong demand for Bravecto, the company's chewable pill to combat fleas and ticks in dogs, Merck said. Release

> Sanofi's ($SNY) Merial has appointed its emerging markets chief, Pierluigi Crippa, as head of business operations for Europe, the Middle East and Africa; and it has named Susan Sholtis, previously of Mead Johnson Nutrition, as president of its North American operations. Release | Release

> Zoetis ($ZTS) announced it has received FDA approval to market its dewormer Quest Plus Gel for use in breeding, pregnant and lactating mares. Release

> The Orion Group announced that net sales in its animal health division rose 10% in 2015 to €77 million ($85.4 million). Release

> Santalis Pharmaceuticals of San Antonio, TX, announced it has spun off Roxy's Remedies and raised a Series A financing round from the Targeted Technology Fund to market a line of veterinary skin care products. Release

> Scientists at Queen Mary University of London published a paper in the journal Scientific Reports identifying specific proteins that wane with age in racehorses, possibly contributing to common tendon injuries. Release

> A new coalition called FishMedPlus has been launched with the aim of increasing access to aquaculture medicines in the European Union. More

> Researchers led by the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute's genetics center have discovered that white-tailed deer harbor low levels of the malaria parasite that pose little risk to humans but that could shed new light on the origins of the disease. Article