Eli Lilly Must Sell Dog Heartworm Line to Buy Novartis AG's Animal Health Unit

Published: Dec 23, 2014

Eli Lilly Must Sell Dog Heartworm Line to Buy Novartis AG's Animal Health Unit
December 23, 2014
By Krystle Vermes, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff

Eli Lilly and Company won approval today from the Federal Trade Commission to purchase Novartis AG ’s animal health unit after selling off its heartworm drugs. The FTC had originally asked Eli Lilly to sell its line of heartworm products as a condition back on Dec. 19.

Furthermore, the FTC specified that the acquisition of Novartis AG’s animal unit in conjunction with the ownership of Sentinel products would hurt the market by curbing competition. Additionally, the move may have resulted in higher prices for consumers.

Now, Eli Lilly has complied with the FTC’s condition by selling its division to France-based Virbac SA. Eli Lilly first announced its decision to acquire Novartis Animal Health in April 2014. At the time, the deal was valued at $5.4 billion. The transaction, which will officially close in the first quarter of 2015, is expected to make Eli Lilly’s animal health unit the second-largest animal health company in the U.S.

The Launch of Trifexis
Eli Lilly’s drug, Trifexis, contains the same compound as Novartis’ Sentinel line for the elimination of fleas and other canine parasites. This played a key role in the FTC’s requirements for the deal to go through, but how prominent is Trifexis on the market?

Trifexis was launched by Elanco Companion Animal Health, Eli Lilly’s animal health unit, back in January 2011. The product is a broad spectrum parasiticide composed of milbemycin oxime and spinosad. The drug is thought to prevent and treat flea infetsations, prevent heartworm disease, and other parasites from inflicting harm.

"Trifexis provides three types of parasite protection by combining two trusted active ingredients, spinosad and milbemycin oxime, into a convenient, monthly chewable tablet," said Steve Connell, director of technical, academic and consumer services for Companion Animal Health at Elanco. "It is a significant addition to the portfolio of parasiticide products available to veterinarians and pet owners. Trifexis is the fourth new product we have introduced in less than four years, delivering the innovation we promised when we launched Elanco Companion Animal Health."

Trifexis is only available through prescription medication by licensed veterinarians. Comfortis is the company’s first FDA-approved chewable tablet that kills and prevents fleas for a full month. It was launched back in 2007 by Elanco Companion Animal Health.

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