By Cathy Yarbrough, Contributing Editor
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For Aratana Therapeutics, 2016 was a banner year. The biotech company, founded in 2010, achieved FDA approvals for three of its 10 pipeline drugs. Last year the Kansas City-based company also forged a global partnership with the pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly, a track record that any young biotech company would like to achieve.
But Aratana is not a typical biotech company. It is one of several companies launched during the past decade to develop cutting-edge small molecule and biologic drugs for dogs and cats with cancer, osteoarthritis, and the other chronic disorders that afflict pets as they age. These new companies are part of a $24 billion animal health industry, which is dominated by Zoetis and several other large multinational companies that produce vaccines, parasiticides, and other products for livestock as well as companion animals. But a very small part of these companies’ business is focused on the medical needs of pets with serious diseases.