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Veterinarians sell 62% of pet drugs

Packaged Facts says the veterinary channel is doing well despite competition from traditional retailers and the internet.

Veterinarians sell 62% of pet drugs

The market research firm Packaged Facts estimates that 2017 retail sales of pet medications across the United States will hit $8.55 billion, of which veterinarians will capture 62 percent. The total revenue represents a 12.6 percent jump over 2016 figures.

Retail sales are expected to top $9.1 billion in 2018 and reach $11.2 billion by 2021.

The veterinary share of drug sales has inched upward since the release of Rockville, Maryland-based Packaged Facts’ 2015 report. The boost is linked to new drugs on the market, according to the report, “Pet Medications in the U.S., 5th Edition.”

“The strong two-year increase reflects several blockbuster introductions in the veterinary channel in the last couple of years, particularly Zoetis’ Apoquel and Simparica, Merial’s NexGard and Merck’s Bravecto, as well as weather conditions that have been favorable to parasites and thus to parasiticides,” analyst George Puro wrote.

Veterinarians’ chief competition are mass-market retailers such as Walmart, Target, Costco and Kroger that together earned a 20 percent share. Many of those retailers sell prescription pet medications.

Internet sellers earned a 12 percent share and pet specialty stores the remaining 7 percent, Packaged Facts found.

Heading the list of the largest pet drug manufacturers in 2016 was Zoetis Inc. with $4.9 billion in global sales. No. 2 worldwide was Merck Animal Health at $3.5 billion, followed by Merial Ltd. at $3.2 billion and Elanco Animal Health at $3.1 billion.

Packaged Facts predicted that Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica will become the second-largest player because of its 2017 merger with Merial.

Looking at consumer trends, Packaged Facts reported that 67 percent of dog owners purchase heartworm medications. Just as noteworthy, more than 8-in-10 clients trust what their veterinarian says about pet drugs.

“Among dog med purchasers and cat med purchasers alike, trust in veterinarian-recommended medications runs very high, and active distrust is rare,” Puro wrote. “Among pet medication purchasers, 87 percent of dog owners and 85 percent of cat owners agree that they trust the medications recommended by their vets.”