Medicine for Pets – the new, the old, the ugly and the truth
Apoquel is irking veterinarians and pet owners and it is not because it does not work. On the contrary, the “miracle” drug is nothing short of a God send for itchy dogs. Unfortunately the company manufacturing Apoquel, Zoetis, cannot keep up with the demand. Who wants their dog to itch again?
Apoquel (oclacitinib tablet) has been on perpetual backorder or short supply since soon after its launch in January 2014. It controls itching and inflammation duet to allergic and atopic dermatitis, sometimes within 24 hours of use. Ear inflammations are tamed and other signs of allergies seem to dissipate to some degree as well. The drug works so well that people will switch veterinarians to get access to Apoquel.
The shortage feeds a frustration from both veterinary teams and clients who have heard of the drug but cannot get it. People are willing to travel for Apoquel supplies. Clinics need to sign up for a set supply and delivery occurs every two months. However, when shortage occurs, some clinics can be fully cut off, at least temporarily. Rationing can be the norm. Veterinarians will give limited supplies at a time to keep as many clients supplied as possible. But truly, it is a first come first serve.
Zoetis has made great efforts to reassure the public that their veterinarian is not withholding medication from them. The manufacturer simply cannot keep up with the demand. Zoetis’ plan to release Apoquel in other countries such as Canada and Australia have been delayed to prioritize supply for existing customers.
Some say it can take two years to manufacture Apoquel. Another challenge is that when the shortage ends, so many clinics sign up that the “fix” is short lived and as this article is written, Apoquel is on back order…again, even at 1-800-petmeds. The company is struggling to meet the ever growing demand. The ingredients are such that the 16 mg tablets are being affected the most as the ingredient is used to make more 3.6 mg and 5.4 mg tablets. Not good news for some large patients.
So when the UPS truck came to deliver at the clinic and Apoquel was unpacked, everyone is smiling because we know many clients will be happy…for a while.
About Dr. Chauvet:
Dr. Anne Chauvet – DVM, DACVIM, Neurology
Dr. Chauvet was born in France and raised in Gabon, Africa as well as Saskatoon, Canada. She received her Doctorate from the University of Saskatchewan, in Canada. She completed an internship in Small Animal Medicine and Surgery at the University of Illinois, and a residency in Neurology/Neurosurgery at the prestigious University of California, in Davis. She received her diplomate status with the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine in 1995 and is one of less than 250 neurology diplomates in the nation.
Dr. Chauvet was a clinical instructor in Neurology/neurosurgery at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, and was involved in gene therapy research for brain cancer. In 1998, she developed an international course in Basic Science in Veterinary and Comparative Neurology and Neurosurgery that is now considered a standard for veterinary neurologists. She is published in both veterinary and human medical journals, and continues to speak internationally. Dr. Chauvet is an active member of the SWFVMA, IWF, FVMA, AVMA, and ACVIM
Dr. Chauvet has won a multitude of awards and has been recognized by local, national and international organizations for her community involvement and support. In her spare time, Dr. Chauvet volunteers at local children’s charities (Children’s First, Safe Children Coalition). Dr. Chauvet has two boys, Vincent and Devan, who keep her energized and smiling. She and the boys own a multitude of pets.