Pfizer Animal Health this week announced they will be acquiring Catapult Genetics, an Australian company focused on development and marketing of livestock DNA tests and gene markers, and Louisiana-based Bovigen that markets Catapult's technology in the U.S. and has started developing independent genetic markers.
"Pfizer Animal Health sees real long-term value to livestock producers from our strategic move into genetic marker technology," says Nigel Evans, director of business innovation for Pfizer. "The move expands Pfizer's already strong commitment to promoting livestock health and the provision of safe, high-quality food throughout the world."
Product and brand names such as Genestar and Suretrack are among those marketed by Catapult and Bovigen. Evans says with this move Pfizer will be in a position to offer more complete solutions to livestock producers worldwide.
"Genetic markers and genetic information alongside our current vaccines and medicine will allow us to provide broader solutions," Evans says. "That will in turn enhance livestock producer business success and indeed add value to the entire production chain."
Pfizer will now have access from the best genetic research and development from around the world including Australia and New Zealand, the United States and Europe. According to Evans they intend to make major R and D investments that will result in the development of new products and services.
"As we look to the future we see that genetic tests may one day allow producers to better predict such important things as disease resistance and immune response in individual animals," Evans says. "This information will help veterinarians and producers to actually provide improved healthcare through better targeting medicines to livestock that need it the most."
The deal is expected to be completed by the end of March, and Evans says that it will be very much business as usual for a time while Pfizer evaluates several aspects such as marketing and advertising. Pfizer will be maintaining all the existing R and D contracts that Catapult and Bovigen have entered into and will be extending that R and D both with current providers and new providers.
DNA testing is still an emerging technology and the company has been excited by the uptake in DNA users in the cattle industry. According to Calvin Gunter, director of corporate development for Bovigen, it's difficult to get a good number on something like this that is an emerging technology but he thinks somewhere around 10% North American cattle producers use DNA technology. And Pfizer will be the major player in that field.
"In terms of market share, again another number that's very hard to estimate," Evans says. "But our best guest would probably be in North America somewhere well north of 80% of the market share."