Listening to Our Customers
Since the 1990s Merial's FRONTLINE® has been a leading product in pet flea and tick control, and its popularity is sure to continue. But input from pet owners and veterinarians made us realize that a spot-on topical doesn't work for everyone. Some squirmy dogs just don't like to hold still, making application tricky. Other clever canines try to rub off the product once it's applied.
So we thought: Wouldn't it be great if flea and tick prevention was even easier? What if it could be given orally? Better yet, what if dogs actually loved it?
We knew what we wanted to do. But launching a brand-new product like this was a big undertaking. It meant building a project team with the end-to-end expertise for each step of the process, and dedicating years to get every detail right. Global input was important, too, since we were targeting many markets. There were lots of moving parts to coordinate—but Merial had faith in the idea, and in the expertise of our team.
It Started with a Sea Sponge
The inspiration for the product came, of all places, from the ocean. Researchers had identified a substance that sea sponges produce to kill off parasitic snails. Scientists isolated the molecule, found it was also effective against insect parasites, and further developed it into the drug substance afoxolaner. Additional studies showed that afoxolaner could be taken orally by dogs and worked quickly, effectively1, and safely2 to kill fleas and ticks; with the right dosing, it could provide 30 days of protection.3
The science was solid. Now we just had to transform it into an irresistible treat for dogs...
Getting the Taste Just Right
Enter our Formulation Development Team. Building on Merial's existing expertise in flavored chewables they got down to work. For months our labs smelled like hamburger and roast meat as the team tinkered with taste, smell, and texture. Several prototypes proved a big hit with canine test subjects.
Our team members would go home each day with barbecue aroma still on their hair, only to say later, 'My dog just loves me when I get home!' We knew then that we were on to something goodSusan Cady, Merial R&D, Formulation Development
Meanwhile, Over at the Plant...
But dog appeal didn't trump practical concerns: we needed a product that could be manufactured efficiently in our existing plants and was stable for packaging and storage. So the U.S.-based Formulation team worked closely with the Manufacturing team at Merial's plant in Brazil. This collaborative cross-border squad developed several prototypes until they nailed the perfect NexGard® form: a soy-based chew with an irresistible beef flavor, emerging from a production process that met Merial's business needs. In fact, by tweaking the equipment and creatively reassessing processes and working shifts, our amazing Manufacturing team managed to get production going a full eight months ahead of the original project schedule! The launch of NexGard was just around the corner.
In the Homestretch to Launch
As the product itself was being finalized, Clinical R&D staff spent months conducting more than 60 studies on 6 continents and gathering the data needed for regulatory approvals. The U.S. FDA set the bar high, and our team rose to the occasion, producing an impressive body of evidence to demonstrate NexGard's value and safety. In late 2013 we received approval in the U.S., followed by Europe and Japan early the next year.
We knew NexGard worked—and regulatory authorities agreed with us. We just needed to get the word out more widely. Since NexGard is a prescription-only product, vet education and outreach was key. Our team of 32 Technical Services Veterinarians traveled the U.S. (our first target market) logging thousands of miles and meeting with hundreds of vets to talk about this innovative new option for fighting fleas and ticks. Persuading vets wasn't hard—the scientific data spoke for itself, and the dogs spoke for the taste! We tested NexGard with thousands of dogs, and the response was overwhelmingly positive.
A Big Hit with Vets, Owners, and Dogs
By late 2014 we'd launched NexGard in the U.S., Europe, and Japan, and it's been an overwhelming success, thanks in part to the vets who believe in the product and the owners who have seen results firsthand. Credit also goes to our tireless and creative Sales and Marketing teams, who stirred up excitement for NexGard with a steady stream of fun ad campaigns, special offers, and promotions.
What's ahead? Merial teams around the world are preparing to launch NexGard in several more markets through 2015 and beyond. And our Brazil plant is undergoing expansion to triple its manufacturing capacity to meet that demand. We're ready to make flea and tick protection tastier for even more dogs, and easier than ever for their owners!
IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION
NEXGARD is for use in dogs only. The most frequently reported adverse reactions include vomiting, dry/flaky skin, diarrhea, lethargy, and lack of appetite. The safe use of NEXGARD in pregnant, breeding or lactating dogs has not been evaluated. Use with caution in dogs with a history of seizures.
Please be aware that availability of our products varies across regions and countries, product brand names may vary in different markets, and all products are subject to regulatory requirements of the country of use. You should not construe anything on this website as a promotion or solicitation for any product, or its use, that is not authorized by the laws and regulations of your country of residence.
To find out about specific products and solutions available in your region, explore your local Merial website .
1. Freedom of Information Summary, NADA 141-406, NexGard
2. Drag M, Saik J, Harriman J, Larsen D. Safety evaluation of orally administered afoxolaner in eight-week-old dogs. Vet Parasitol. In press.
3. NexGard prescribing information