Dr. Catherine Knupp, executive vice president and president of Research and Development at Zoetis, shares her insights on the value of innovation to both animal and human health.  

We talk a great deal about innovation being the driving force of growth in the animal health industry at Zoetis. As an owner of a small farm, where my family cares for most of the species Zoetis is committed to supporting, I see the firsthand benefits of this work, and I am passionate about our mission to deliver high quality, innovative products. I even named one of our foals after Excede® (Ceftiofur Crystalline Free Acid), an injectable antibiotic that helped him recover from an infection.

Medicines like Excede and other technical advances in preventing and treating disease help companion animals live longer, healthier lives. They also support livestock farmers to raise healthy animals in increasingly sustainable ways, providing families worldwide with safe, high-quality milk, meat, eggs and fish. At Zoetis, our approach to innovation is grounded in our Core Belief of being Customer Obsessed, and in this article I want to tell you about how our approach works.

To decide whether an innovative idea is worth pursuing, we define a profile for a product or service that is based on that idea, then analyze whether the customer is likely to use that product. Teams in research and development (R&D), along with commercial development and lifecycle management, seek insights into current and latent needs -- the ones customers may not even realize are critical to the future success of their business

Focused on Value

We focus on therapeutic areas with high need and potential to deliver value to customers and to Zoetis. Across both companion and livestock animals, these include: parasiticides, prevention and treatment of infectious disease, and treatment of pain and inflammation. Areas of specific interest for companion animals include allergy and dermatology, sedation and anesthesia, as well as renal and cardiovascular diseases. For livestock animals we have interests in reproduction, healthy performance and food safety. We assess opportunities in terms of technical feasibility and the potential to generate high-margin revenue growth. As we consider investment in our current portfolio, we prioritize investments in product lines that are most important to Zoetis with forward-looking, sustainable plans for lifecycle enhancements.

Extensive Capabilities, External Alliances

Our new product R&D draws upon the extensive capabilities and diverse expertise of our internal team of scientists located across the U.S., Europe, China, Australia and Brazil. They are knowledgeable about the unique needs of customers and the regulatory requirements relevant to a region or country. We leverage discoveries from academia, public-private institutions, and the agribusiness, pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. We are convinced that combining internal capabilities with external alliances helps deliver a faster, less expensive and more sustainable pipeline as compared to human health R&D.

Armed with Insights

The approval in the U.S. and EU of Apoquel® (oclacitinib tablet) in 2013 is a testament to the capabilities of Zoetis scientists to not only develop first-in-class medicines, but also to develop platforms of scientific knowledge. Armed with insights -- such as the understanding of the cascade of proteins involved in triggering the allergic response in dogs – we can identify and develop different therapeutic approaches. For example, our platform of knowledge in canine allergy is leading to development of a novel antibody therapy approach for which Zoetis is seeking approval from regulatory authorities in the U.S. and the European Union.

Rapid Response to Infectious Disease

We have also built a key strength in preventing and treating infectious disease, and rapidly responding to emerging infectious diseases. Zoetis has the capabilities to be successful in this arena with deep experience in developing vaccines to help control emerging infectious disease. Using our pilot plants, co-located with manufacturing to enable efficient transfer of the production process, we are able to achieve our aspiration of being first to know and first to market. Our internal capabilities are fortified by alliances with academic institutions and government or private research organizations with expertise of early detection and genomic sequencing. Our development of a conditionally licensed vaccine to help control porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDv) in the U.S. in 14 months is a prime example -- and now we are looking for ways to help prevent the different strains of influenza viruses infecting dogs and poultry in the U.S.

Innovation Unfolds Tremendous Possibilities

From my perspective, the possibilities for what innovation can deliver to veterinary medicine and public health are thrilling. Imagine linking our insights into the genetic risk for a condition with a diagnostic to monitor health status and a novel biotherapeutic to help prevent or treat that disease. Or a vaccine developed with biotechnology tools that can help control an emerging infectious disease outbreak and help keep livestock healthy and productive. And, think about a new class of anti-infectives that can treat a life-threatening infection in animals. A vibrant future lies ahead for the animal health industry through innovation. Colleagues at Zoetis are determined to lead the way. 

Dr. Knupp’s full bio can be found here.