Lack of supply limiting veterinary drug sales


China's booming pet clinic industry is boosting demand for veterinary drugs, but a lack of supply and outdated regulations are hampering growth.

"The market lacks sufficient supply of pet medication," said Sun Yanzheng, a senior vet. "In 2018, the amount spent on dogs was 105 billion yuan ($15.27 billion), and the figure was 65 billion yuan for cats. But the medicine market for dogs and cats in the same year was only 8 billion yuan."

"Of pet owners, 82 percent have spent money on vaccines, 63 percent on deworming, 58 percent on grooming and beauty," he said. "But only 11 percent have bought vet-prescribed supplies."

Liu Lang, president of the Beijing Small Animal Veterinary Association, said the situation was much better than five years ago, but what the authorities can do is to lift the ban on using human drugs on small animals.

"The law was made to prevent misuse of human drugs on animals raised for food," he said. "It has never changed, even though we now want to use those drugs on pets.

"So, there is a situation where we don't have a targeted pet drug, and although there is a human drug that can be applied to pets, we still can't use it. It is a blind spot." he said.

According to the China Veterinary Drug Association, 59 new drugs were registered in 2017. Last year, the number was 71.

For drugmakers, the demand from the Chinese market offers tremendous opportunities to foreign players such as Bayer, Pfizer and Zoetis.

For example, Zoetis, one of the world's largest animal health companies, saw its business in China grow at a steady pace.

According to the animal drugmaker, its revenue in China from the pet sector saw a 47 percent increase from $57 million in 2017 to $84 million in 2018.

Bayer shares this optimism about the Chinese market.

"China is the third largest pet-owning country in the world, and China's pet industry is growing rapidly," said Christoph Vetten, head of Bayer Animal Health Greater China.

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