Novartis begs vets for loyalty through animal drug shortages

Novartis ($NVS) isn't pussyfooting around its animal-drug shortages. But with supply problems still dogging the most popular products, veterinarians are howling--and switching their four-pawed patients to rival products.

As the Veterinary Information Network reports, the Swiss-based drugmaker recently wrote vet customers to plead for patience. Novartis Animal Health Sales VP Andy Ferrigno admitted that the shutdown of a Lincoln, NE, plant last September has cut off supplies of key products, particularly the parasite-fighters Interceptor and Sentinel. But Novartis is "working diligently" to get its products back on the distribution list, he wrote.

The problem for Novartis is that its competitors are ready and willing to take advantage of the market vacuum. "Your clinic will be approached in the coming months by our competitors, offering you load-in deals and terms that may draw your interest," Ferrigno wrote (as quoted by VIN News). "[W]e hope you will seriously consider saving us a spot on your shelves."

That dog won't hunt for some veterinarians, who tell VIN News that they're moving away from Novartis products, probably permanently. Some are frustrated by a lack of information about when the drugmaker's products will be available again. Others are angry that the Interceptor and Sentinel products--which are given monthly as a preventive measure--are still available via some online outlets.

Novartis says it's angry about the latter, too. In his letter, Ferrigno promised that the company is investigating how certain retailers got ahold of the scarce products. "Any product that found its way into those retail channels was most likely diverted without our knowledge," he wrote.

Meanwhile, the company says the missing products are in "various stages of pre-production and production." One product--Clomicalm--has started shipping again. As for Sentinel Flavor Tabs, the company has started producing validation batches, but hasn't yet started full-scale production. "Due to the evolving situation at the plant, we cannot give exact dates when product will be shipping," the company said in a fact sheet on its website.

- read the VIN News story
- see the Novartis fact sheet

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