Zoetis plans vaccine against PEDv

(Photo courtesy ARS/USDA)

Chicago | Reuters — Zoetis Inc., the world’s largest animal-health company, plans to seek U.S. approval before the end of this year to sell its vaccine against a virus that has killed about 13 per cent of the U.S. hog herd.

If approved, the new drug would rival the only vaccine available so far.

Zoetis, which was spun off from drugmaker Pfizer last year, expects to ask the U.S. Department of Agriculture for a “conditional license” to sell its vaccine against porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDv), CEO Juan Ramon Alaix told analysts during a quarterly earnings call on Tuesday.

The license would allow the company to sell the vaccine directly to hog farmers while it conducts further tests.

“There will be some limitations in terms of promotional activities, but not limitations in terms of selling the product to the market,” he said.

The fast-moving virus has killed an estimated eight million piglets since it was first identified in the U.S. last year, pushing U.S. pork prices to record highs.

The virus during that time has been confirmed on almost 7,900 farms in 30 U.S. states. Canadian officials since January have confirmed cases on 63 farms in southern Ontario, one each in Quebec and Prince Edward Island and two in Manitoba — one of which turned up new cases of infection again last month.

Zoetis declined to provide details on the number of pigs the vaccine has been tested on, or on the results.

USDA in June granted conditional approval to privately-held Harrisvaccines to sell farmers the first vaccine against PEDv. Still, veterinarians have warned outbreaks will likely surge this fall and winter because the virus thrives in cold weather.

USDA declined to comment on Zoetis’ plans.

— Tom Polansek reports on agriculture and ag commodity markets for Reuters from Chicago. Includes files from AGCanada.com Network staff.

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