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Jeffrey Simmons

18 January 2023

What did Elanco move to the animal health industry, and what is the fundamental role pets play in society?

Elanco emerged from human health, turning human health innovations into animal platforms, but we have taken it even further; by making animal’s lives better, we make life better.


Our vision revolves around the idea that food and companionship enrich life.


When we look at the groups that were particularly isolated during the pandemic, were able to measure how pets decreased feelings of isolation and anxiety, and it becomes apparent that they provide humans with happiness and friendship in a unique way. The fact that eight out of ten homes in the U.S. have a pet, shows how profound and meaningful our relationships with animals are. 

In an increasingly globalized world, what is the breadth that you can cover in terms of addressing animal diseases across continents?

With 69 years of history, we are at a point at which we have a network that reaches the world’s pets and animals. April 2023 will be a milestone as we roll out our new SAP system that can reach into over 100 countries. Elanco will be the bridge to the world’s animals. In terms of animal healthcare, we work with 20 different species of animals, from water buffalo in India to cats in Seattle and cattle in Argentina.

The point to all this is bringing innovation where it’s needed, given the fact that many animals are still left untreated. For example, we took a Harvard innovation with an SGLT2 inhibitor product that had the potential to treat feline diabetes, went through FDA approval, and are now working on supply chains to reach cats suffering from diabetes to give them a once daily oral medication that can provide an alternative to daily insulin shots across the globe. One-third of pet owners around the world do not take their pets to the vet with a large portion of these being cats, so we’re focused on building a portfolio of feline products that address modern-day health needs of today’s cats and pioneer solutions in underserved chronic disease states. 

What is a fundamental difference between human health and animal health and what are some exciting therapeutic areas you are working on?

Unlike human health, ours is a cash business and not a payor model (or insurance), so we must constantly prove value – which, if done correctly, makes the industry more sustainable. This implies working with many different countries and species to develop efficient ways to globalize innovations. Then, we must focus on the big segments; parasiticides, itch, pain - you must go after all of these and understand how to engage strategically across different species. One big similarity with humans lies in the fact that we are seeing aging populations in pets, and these entail new diseases. In the past few years, our industry has added 20% more time to a dog’s life, which is certainly a win. But it does mean that they suffer from diseases of aging now – like diabetes, obesity, cancer, autoimmune issues. These are all areas that are evolving and where we are taking platforms and lessons learned from human pharma to solve for new solutions in pet health. For example, we are using monoclonal antibodies to develop treatment for Parvovirus disease in puppies, an unmet, dire medical need.

Beyond pet healthcare you have made significant strides in the protein space - what innovations can we hope to see in this field?

Global animal protein consumption is predicted to grow by 90 million metric tons (MMT) in the next decade – that is 50% more growth than the last 10 years. Bottom line, consumers appreciate the taste and nutritional benefits of animal protein. For years now, we have been addressing antibiotic use in food-producing animals. We know that healthier animals result in higher production and reduce mortality. Today, we work alongside farmers, veterinarians, and other stakeholders to help create more efficient production and outputs from each animal while being stewards of many aspects of the animal’s health – from antibiotics to nutritional.

At the same time, the choice for sustainability is a growing factor when consumers are making decisions about their food. Consumers increasingly are looking for sustainable options, including in their animal protein. Today Elanco’s cattle portfolio reduces emissions 11%, but we believe we can achieve 40-50% or more with products in our pipeline. This will transform livestock sustainability efforts and the environment at large, in a staggering way that no other technology available will have on our planet. We must help animals help people because we cohabitate the earth.

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