Elanco buys swine PWD vaccine maker

Veterinary drugmaker Elanco Animal Health is expanding its space in the swine sector with a deal to buy the Quebec startup behind Coliprotec vaccines.

Indianapolis-based Elanco announced Thursday it has paid $78.5 million to buy Prevtec Microbia, which is headquartered in Montreal with facilities in St-Hyacinthe.

The Coliprotec line is meant to help protect pigs against post-weaning diarrhea (PWD) and related symptoms of infection with pathogenic E. coli bacteria.

Weanlings are at risk of E. coli exposure due to relocation, commingling, loss of maternal antibodies and the shift to a solid diet, Elanco said. Symptoms of E. coli infection such as PWD typically appear five to 15 days after weaning and can last three weeks or more.

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Prevtec’s vaccine products are “particularly important in Europe given the (European Union’s) direction to phase out the use of the antibiotic colistin and zinc oxide, both among the ways producers’ protect against E. coli today,” Elanco said.

“Offering a full range of alternative solutions is particularly important given alternatives do not typically have the same broad spectrum of activity antibiotics deliver.”

Regulators have been weighing the availability of colistin to livestock producers since the 2015 discovery of a gene that makes bacteria highly resistant to the polymyxin class of antibiotics.

Colistin, a member of that class, is used in both human and veterinary medicine. In Canada, the federal health department’s Veterinary Drugs Directorate places polymyxins in Category I (“very high importance”) of its list of antimicrobials based on importance in human medicine.

As for zinc oxide, the EU in 2017 announced it would withdraw authorizations for the product’s use as a PWD treatment, citing risks from environmental accumulations of zinc.

Elanco, already the exclusive distributor for Coliprotec in Canada and Europe, said it will now “look to expand registration to other key geographies” and will bring Prevtec’s research and development programs into its own pipeline.

Elanco’s work with Prevtec so far “has been very successful and has resulted in delivery of an important non-antibiotic solution for swine producers,” Ramiro Cabral, executive vice-president for Elanco’s international business, said in a release.

“Our distribution agreement thus culminates in this exciting opportunity to provide actual and future vaccines to the animal health industry,” Prevtec CEO Michel Fortin said Thursday in a separate release.

Prevtec’s swine E. coli vaccine Coliprotec F4 has been sold across Canada since 2007, later picking up approvals in Brazil (2010), the EU (2015) and the United States (2018). Coliprotec F18 has been distributed in Canada since 2015.

Authorizations were granted in 2017 for the combination product Coliprotec F4/F18 in the EU and Canada and later in Russia and CIS countries.

Elanco noted Thursday it has taken other steps in the past year to “advance the company for greater success in the swine industry,” including the launch of Prevacent porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) vaccine and a deal with AgBiome to develop probiotic products for gut health issues.

The deal announced Thursday with Prevtec also calls for a contingent payment of up to $21.5 million to Prevtec’s now-former shareholders in the first quarter of 2022 if “certain sales milestones” are hit in 2021. — Glacier FarmMedia

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