Pfizer's Cerenia to bring relief to pets from April
Drug giant Pfizer has set April for the European launch of its pill for dogs suffering from motion sickness. Cerenia could help make car journeys a more pleasant experience for both pet owners and the one in six or so dogs that Pfizer estimates may suffer from the condition.
Dogs that get car sick may be anxious, drool excessively, vomit and in some cases suffer from urinary and faecal incontinence. The condition is thought to result from a mismatch between the information that the brain receives from the eyes, which may not register movement during car journeys, and the sensory system within the inner ear - which does.
Pfizer’s drug contains maropitant citrate, which blocks binding of the peptide neurotransmitter ’Substance P’ to neurokin 1 (NK 1) receptors in the brain. NK1 receptor antagonists were originally investigated for possible use as antidepressant drugs but were then found to prevent nausea and vomiting. Although this particular drug has never been developed for human use, a compound with similar effects on NK1 receptors is used to prevent vomiting after chemotherapy.
Jorge Schwenke, a veterinary practitioner from Wilnsdorf in Western Germany is one of the first vets in Europe to test the drug and has used it successfully with his own dog. A dog with car sickness is even less likely to enjoy a long trip than a human with the same condition, he says.
’Human passengers are able to avoid motion sickness by visually locating the direction of travel or taking breaks for fresh air,’ says Schwenke. ’A dog is completely helpless against the symptoms and reacts with fear and discomfort because the problem will occur every time that it is placed in a car.’
Motion sickness is more common in large than in small breeds and occurs more often in puppies than adult dogs. Affected dogs have previously been treated with sedatives but these can make the animal drowsy for up to two days. Behavioural therapy may also help in training dogs to be less anxious but that is time consuming and unreliable - forcing many owners to leave their dogs at home.
Cerenia was licensed for use in US by the Food and Drug Administration last year.