About one in five lost pets run away after being scared by loud noises from fireworks, thunder and other sources, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Now, just in time for all those summertime noises, Zoetis ($ZTS) is launching a drug to relieve anxiety in dogs who shy away from the cacophony.
On May 16, Zoetis introduced the new drug, called Sileo (dexmedetomidine), which is a gel that can be placed between a nervous dog's cheek and gum. The drug becomes active within 30 to 60 minutes and lasts two to three hours, according to a press release from the company. That route of administration limits the spread of the drug throughout the body, which produces a calming but not overly sedating effect, the company says.
The company estimates that about a third of dog owners report that their pets are afraid of loud noises, but only 40% of them seek help from their veterinarians. Symptoms of noise anxiety include panting, trembling and escape attempts.
Some veterinarians say they welcome the new choice for treating noise aversion in dogs. Chris Pachel, a veterinary behaviorist at the Animal Behavior Clinic in Portland, OR, told the Associated Press that dogs can be given tranquilizers and anti-anxiety pills for people such as Xanax, but those are risky, because they can take days to wear off and sometimes they cause side effects like stomach upset. "There's always a need for new options," Pachel told the AP.
In two pivotal studies of Sileo, which were conducted on New Year’s Eve in Europe, the drug was reported to be effective in 75% of dogs, vs. the placebo, which had an effect in 33% of dogs. About 4% of the dogs in the trial who were given the drug experienced stomach upset, according to the labeling information provided with the drug.
The launch of Sileo is the latest in a string of new product approvals for Zoetis. In February, the company won FDA approval for Simparica (sarolaner), a chewable drug for dogs that fends off fleas and ticks for a month. The following month, the company got a conditional approval from the USDA for its vaccine to prevent the H5N1 strain of avian influenza.
Zoetis had initially lowered its revenue expectations for 2016, but earlier this month, it reported a surprisingly good first quarter. As a result, the company told analysts to expect full-year sales to come in between $4.775 billion and $4.875 billion--a slight improvement over its previous forecast.