Big Pharma drools after $25B market for pricey pet care

We all know that pet owners are increasingly willing to shell out big bucks for their animal friends. Memory-foam beds for $100-plus, designer collars and leashes, that weekly hair appointment--and, yes, veterinary care. In fact, the market for pet healthcare, including drugs and flea treatments and so on, was worth about $25 billion last year.

That's one reason why so many drugmakers are investing in animal health. Dog and cat products account for the lion's share of that spending--at $9.7 billion and $4.8 billion, respectively, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Pharma companies want their share. Bayer's animal health business bought Teva Pharmaceutical Industries' ($TEVA) vet-drugs unit for $145 milion last year. Sanofi's ($SNY) Merial division recently snapped up an Indian animal health business. And, of course, Pfizer's ($PFE) Zoetis recently raised more than $2.2 billion in an IPO. Even store-brand specialist Perrigo is getting in on the action, with two buyouts--including one to the tune of $285 million--adding over-the-counter pet remedies to its portfolio.

And pet healthcare isn't just about vaccinations, routine surgeries and antibiotics. It's not even limited to old-style chemo for cancers. Pets are getting some of the high-tech oncology treatments their owners would, including tyrosine kinase inhibitors. Zoetis developed a TKI drug--Palladia--specifically for dogs, the WSJ notes. Pets are also getting heart drugs originally meant for humans.

- read the WSJ piece (sub. req.)