One of the most serious threats to a young farm pig’s life is a type of gut infection that can quickly turn deadly. Elanco Animal Health has acquired a Canadian biotechnology startup that has commercialized a line of vaccines developed to protect pigs from the infection.
Elanco (NYSE: ELAN) announced Thursday that it paid approximately $59.9 million to acquire Prevtec Microbia of Montreal. If the vaccine developer hits sales milestones in 2021, then Greenfield, IN-based Elanco could pay Prevtec shareholders up to $16.4 million more, according to the deal terms.
Prevtec’s flagship product line, Coliprotec, was developed to address post-weaning diarrhea caused by Escherichia coli. A sow’s milk provides newborn piglets with the antibodies that guard against the proliferation of these bacteria. But as piglets are weaned from this milk, they can become susceptible to E. coli infection, which can lead to a loss of appetite and weight, and in the most serious cases, cause death.
Post-weaning diarrhea can be treated with antibiotics, including one marketed by Elanco. The company’s tiamulin (Denagard) is an antibiotic developed to treat intestinal infections caused by E. coli and Salmonella enterica. In Elanco’s 2018 annual report, tiamulin is listed as one of the company’s five top-selling products.
Antibiotic treatment for pig diarrhea has fallen out of favor due to concerns about increasing antibiotic resistance. Prevtec was founded in 2003 based on research from the Université de Montréal. The company’s goal was to develop antibiotic alternatives. The first Coliprotec product was approved in Canada in 2007. The company has since won regulatory approvals in Brazil, the US, Russia, and the European Union. Elanco sells Coliprotec in Canada and Europe under distribution agreements with Prevtec.
In a prepared statement, Elanco said it would look to expand the approval of Coliprotec to other regions in the world. In addition to acquiring Prevtec’s Coliprotec product line and inventory, Elanco gains the startup’s pipeline of experimental products still in development.
Elanco’s Prevtec acquisition comes on the heels of other moves in swine health. In June, the company launched its Prevacent vaccine for porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome, a viral disease. The company also announced in June a partnership with Research Triangle Park, NC-based microbiome products startup AgBiome to develop probiotic products for swine.
Prevtec is the latest Elanco partner that ended up being acquired by the animal health giant. In April, Elanco inked a deal to buy pet medicines developer Aratana Therapeutics for $234 million. The Aratana deal closed last month.
Public domain image by Flickr user U.S. Department of Agriculture