Animal and Human Medicine

Animals, like humans, are prone to illness and need medicine to treat and prevent disease. And from indoors-only cats to free-range chickens, animals – no matter where they live – benefit from today’s veterinary medicines. Better animal health is an important part of an animal’s welfare.

On average, the world spends only about one-fortieth of the amount it devotes to human medicines on animal medicines. But that investment is used to cover animal health innovations for the world’s 24 billion chickens, more than 1 billion cattle and sheep, 750 million pigs and goats, 500 million dogs and 400 million cats. The time, care and investment put into the research and development of animal medicines ensures a steady stream of new and innovative products that improve the health and well-being of all of these animals.

The animal health industry contributes to public health by providing veterinarians with medicines needed to keep animals healthy.

  • About 55 percent of product sales are companion animal products.
  • Annual research and development investments of $747 million in 2012, averaging about 10 percent of annual sales.
  • The animal health market is a very fractured market. Animal medicines are developed for seven different major species and any number of minor species. A “blockbuster” drug in animal health has annual sales of $50 to $100 million. Most animal medicines, some 85 percent, have annual sales under $1 million.
  • Development of a major species new animal drug takes 7 to 10 years and costs up to $100 million.

What are the types of medicines for animals?

Pharmaceuticals: used to treat and prevent diseases in companion animals and livestock and treat conditions in pets to extend the length and enhance the quality of their lives. Approved and regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Vaccines: used to immunize both pets and livestock against life-threatening diseases. Approved and regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Feed additives: used in livestock and poultry feed to treat, prevent and control diseases and, in some cases, increase animal productivity. Approved and regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Flea and tick products: used to protect pets from common pests and allow greater human/animal interaction. Approved and regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

For more information on how proper and legal use of antibiotics keeps animals healthy, visit

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