FDA begins to guide nanotechnology in animal feed

The FDA's new draft industry guidance on the use of nanomaterials in animal feed could ramp up production in drug delivery products for livestock, as companies scramble to find new ways of fattening them up--and faster.

Nanotechnology is an emerging technology that allows scientists to create, explore and manipulate materials on a scale measured in nanometers--particles so small that they cannot be seen with a regular microscope. The technology has a broad range of potential applications, but for animal health the money's in feed additives. Analysts forecast the global animal feed additive market to reach about $20 billion by 2018 from about $14.3 billion in 2012.

The agency's draft guidance, which was released on June 24, says "it is intended to help industry and other stakeholders identify potential issues related to the safety or regulatory status of food for animals containing nanomaterials or otherwise involving the application of nanotechnology." It stresses the need for feed additive manufacturers to consult with the FDA as it develops new products due to the agency's lack of data on possible safety issues.

And the burgeoning field of nanotechnology might be the next best way to get bigger, better animals.

Meanwhile, the animal health business is heating up as the end to the second financial quarter approaches. Just last week, Parnell ($PARN) debuted on the Nasdaq with 5 million shares and Sorrento Therapeutics filed with the SEC for a possible offering of its wholly owned subsidiary, Ark Animal Health. Boehringer Ingelheim's Vetmedica unit got approval in Japan for its termisartan treatment for chronic kidney disease and renal failure in cats, while Ceva Animal Health just released a pheromone nasal gel that treats anxiety in horses.

The draft guidance was released with three final guidances on the identification, manufacture and implementation of nanotechnology. The comment period on the draft guidance ends Sept. 10.

- here's the FDA's draft guidance (PDF)
- and here's a news release from the agency