If you thought obese humans are the only creatures on earth susceptible to harm from a diet pill, consider overweight dogs, specifically those taking Pfizer'sSlentrol pill. The FDA is planning a pharmacogenomic study to determine whether reported adverse drug events are associated with genetic variations in the dogs treated with the pill, which was approved in 2007.
Why? A preliminary analysis by the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine indicates potential correlations between certain dog breeds and some side effects, according to a notice in the Federal Register. The notice did not specify side effects or breeds, but Slentrol labeling shows that vomiting occurred in nearly 25 percent of the dogs, 12 percent suffered diarrhea and nearly 10 percent grew lethargic (so much for relying on exercise for losing weight). Pfizer claims studies yielded a weight loss of nearly 12 percent.
A Pfizer spokesman tells The Wall Street Journal that the breeds most often associated with these side effects are labrador retrievers, beagles, golden retrievers, dachshunds, pugs and Chihuahuas. But he insists that the drugmaker has not seen any correlation between specific dog breeds and specific adverse events.
The issue may seem trite, but this occurs as more drugmakers seek to diversify by expanding their animal health businesses. Pfizer, for instance, generated more than $1.7 billion in sales during the first half of 2010, a 47 percent increase. That amounted to 5 percent of total revenue. Meanwhile, primary care products rose 12 percent (see 2010 second-quarter report here). Finding a cure for cancer and other human ailments may be important, but Pfizer shareholders are clearly seeing more growth come from treating dogs, cats and other beasts.