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Targeted drug relief for NZ's dogs in big chill

News release
For immediate release

4 July 2006

Targeted drug brings relief to New Zealand's dogs in the big chill

Just as humans are more conscious of everyday aches and pains when the weather is cold, so dogs are more prone to lameness and joint pain in the winter months.

Julie Butson of animal health company, Merial New Zealand, says that osteoarthritis in dogs doesn't appear only in cold weather, but winter is often the time that owners will notice the signs.

"The symptoms of osteoarthritis are certainly more obvious in the winter, with dogs often a bit slow and stiff on wet or chilly mornings. It's something owners can often relate to!"

But osteoarthritis can cause serious pain to a dog and is frequently debilitating, just as it is in humans. The animal's quality of life is often compromised, and owners worry that exercise will cause further pain, often resulting in a reduction in the animal's activity levels that, ironically, can lead to a worsening of the condition.

"Owners' instincts are understandable," says Ms Butson. "A dog suffering from osteoarthritis often can't cope with highly energetic exercise, but it's vital to keep dogs active to avoid other risks to their health and wellbeing, such as obesity, which in turn can make osteoarthritis worse."

Worldwide more people own dogs and the animals are living longer. Now dogs are suffering the same lifestyle problems as humans, including obesity and arthritis as they age. Obesity is now a common problem among pet dogs and a combination of this and other lifestyle issues – such as lack of exercise – brings more weight and wear on joints, with a corresponding rise in arthritis.

International studies indicate that around one in five dogs suffers from arthritis, suggesting that 125,000 of New Zealand's 600,000 dogs are afflicted. Of these it is estimated more than half are not being treated.

Last year Merial introduced PREVICOX ® a drug especially developed to treat this sort of pain in dogs, which has seen a fantastic response.

"The drug's success is based on results, with vets seeing 86% of their canine patients improve at least one grade in pain on manipulation and 92% of owners seeing improvement in their pets1.

"Animal treatments are frequently based on drugs developed for humans and then adapted. PREVICOX ® is different because we started with what we knew about dogs and arthritis and developed a drug specifically for the animal."

Substantial research and development, involving the screening of thousands of molecules, narrowed the search down to three or four which work particularly well on dogs.

Double-blind trials demonstrate the ability of PREVICOX to treat pain, while not interfering with normal organ function, making it unique to the market. The drug specifically inhibits the production of COX-2 prostagladins, which are known to induce pain and swelling, but does not inhibit COX-1, which is important for organs to function normally – particularly the gut and kidneys.

Before it was introduced to New Zealand, PREVICOX was subjected to an experience trial in which five New Zealand veterinarians nationwide each treated 10 dogs with the drug.

Veterinarian Dr Nick Twyford, of Franklin Veterinary Services, who had "senior patients" in the trial, says anti-inflammatory medicines now make up a significant percentage of medicines prescribed at his practice.

For one dog with an ankle injury, which needed surgery rather than drugs, results were disappointing, but most patients showed significant improvement. The most spectacular result was achieved in a 10 year-old dog suffering severe osteoarthritis, which had been on other drugs for some time.

"The owner was delighted with the improvement," Twyford says.

"PREVICOX allows me to manage pain in my canine patients using a medicine with a distinctive safety profile that was designed principally for the veterinary market."

References: 1. Merial Data on File (PREVICOX Clinical Experience Study 2004-5, Australia and New Zealand).

®PREVICOX is a Registered Trademark of Merial Limited. Registered pursuant to the ACVM Act 1997, No.A9342. see for registration conditions. Prescription Animal Remedy (P.A.R) Class I. For use only under the authority or prescription of a veterinarian."
A Merck Sharp & Dohme and sanofi-aventis Company. Merial New Zealand Limited. Level 3, Merial Building. Osterley Way. Manukau City. PREVICOX is a registered trademark of Merial Limited. ©Copyright 2006. Merial Limited. All Rights Reserved.


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