ECO Animal Health Group Plc (LON:EAH) Chief Executive Officer Marc Loomes caught up with DirectorsTalk for an exclusive interview to discuss the what the company does, Aivlosin regulatory approvals, new developments in upcoming vaccinations and their plans for the near future.
Q1: So, I believe this is your first appearance on DirectorsTalk Mark, so welcome. Could you please give a brief background on the company?
A1: ECO Animal Health Group was established in 1993 and was amongst the very first companies to join AIM 2 years later. Today, the company sells its products which are for the treatment of economically important diseases of livestock, principally pigs and poultry, in over 70 countries and employs more 200 staff in 14 regional offices.
We develop new products making extensive use of universities and contract research organisations, obtain marketing authorisations or licenses enabling these products to be sold through the most appropriate channels to market and we utilise third party contract manufacturers to produce our portfolio of products.
Q2: You recently announced the receipt of a marketing authorisation in India for the use of Aivlosin in chicken laying eggs for human consumption, could you provide an update on this?
A2: Aivlosin is ECO’s flagship patented product and is used to treat economically important gastrointestinal/gut and respiratory disease in both pigs and poultry.
This new marketing authorisation for chickens producing eggs for human consumption has a 0-day drug withdrawal period for eggs, the only drug in the Indian market with this claim. This allows egg producers to treat mycoplasma infections in laying birds, reducing mortality and egg loss in the laying period without having to discard any eggs.
The first batch of Aivlosin with this new claim on the label are currently en-route to our newly-formed subsidiary, ECO India. We expect to start selling it into the laying market very soon and with 300 million laying birds, India is the third largest market globally.
Q3: As well at that Mark, you also recently received European marketing authorisation for Aivlosin in the breeding of chickens, what is the significance of this?
A3: The European Medicines Agency is one of the most stringent regulatory authorities in the world, they have licenses Aivlosin for the use in high value breeding birds which produce eggs for hatching replacement stock. This approval goes straight to both the efficacy and safety of Aivlosin in the most valuable of birds.
We will now rollout this approval beyond the EU into the multi-million dollar large international poultry markets enabling us to capitalise on the considerable global potential of Aivlosin.
Q4: Could you explain a bit more about any new developments in upcoming vaccinations and what are ECO’s plans for the near future?
A4: Our vaccine development portfolio is also focussed on swine and poultry and we are targeting both viral and bacterial diseases of economic importance in both species. Amongst our vaccine target, mycoplasma pathogens are a key focus as they will compliment our excellence therapeutic offering against mycoplasma with our Aivlosin range.
Our current priorities are to add to our existing development portfolio by working closely with universities, public research institutions such as The Pirbright Institute, and start-ups where we have a number of exciting potential opportunities undergoing due diligence and contract review at this time. An important aspect of our due diligence is to ensure we have freedom to operate and we’re confident that we can secure exclusivity in key markets.
As a way of de-risking our investment, we plan to take these opportunities through a rigorous proof of concept evaluation in well-designed studies before committing to further development funding. Our pipeline has a mix of well-established concepts as well as novel, potential disruptive technologies and approaches.
Q5: So, looking at your chosen sectors, there appears to be a lot of opportunity, could you describe the key drivers behind this and the potential for ECO Animal Health Group?
A5: Food production and animal health are growth markets, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations predicts that world meat consumption will double by 2050 with pigs and poultry amongst the fastest growing sectors.
ECO has a global presence with well-established routes to market, we have a strong and developing R&D pipeline which will enable us to expand both geographically and across indications. We are profitable, we are cash generative and I believe that the company has enormous potential.