Psych meds find new market in pets

For the next new frontier in psychotropic drug sales, look no further than your best friend Rover. Pharma giants such as Pfizer, Eli Lilly, and Novartis are making big bucks reformulating and repackaging their psychiatric meds for pets. So Lilly's Prozac has become chewable and beef-flavored and dubbed Reconcile, for dogs with separation anxiety. Pfizer's Anipril treats cognitive dysfunction so elderly dogs--who get absent-minded just like their human masters do--remember how to find their food bowls. And Anafranil, the tricyclic antidepressant made by Novartis, now comes in a dog-emblazoned box and is called Clomicalm; it's used not only for its FDA-approved indication, separation anxiety, but also off-label for compulsive disorder. The New York Times describes a dog who can't stop chasing his tail until Clomicalm enters the picture, hidden inside a wad of turkey.

Why pets? Americans are spending beaucoups bucks on their furry companions, that's why: some $49 billion last year compared with $11 billion in 2003. Pfizer alone collected some $1 billion in sales off its companion-animal products last year, and Eli Lilly created a companion animal division in 2006, planning to release several other drugs over the next three years. But the commercial endeavor has some interesting side effects, researchers say; that these drugs work for dogs and cats who exhibit the same psychiatric symptoms humans do tends to reinforce current theories about how humans develop mental disorders.

- read the NYT Magazine story