Written by MVDr. Martin Grym on 22.5.2020 in VetInfo
Veterinarians feel "offended"
Veterinarians have been dealing with coronaviruses in animals for decades. As well as human medicine, which is well aware of coronavirus and coronavirus epidemics (MERS, SARS), there are also specific animal coronaviruses. Dogs, cats, calves, pigs, poultry, ferrets, minks - all these social and farm animals have "their" coronavirus.
Veterinary science has made many advances in recent years. Vaccines are available against some animal coronaviruses, and even in cats, a substance almost identical to the human antiviral drug remdesivir has been tested very successfully.
It is no wonder, then, that veterinarians who have been researching the treatment of animal coronavirus for years would like to contribute their knowledge and experience right now that the world is looking for an effective cure for covid-19. The first experience with a drug very similar to remdesivir was published in veterinary medicine in 2018 and 2019. The treatment was successfully tested on thousands of cats with coronavirus, so-called infectious peritonitis (FIP).
Dr. Pedersen, a cat specialist at the University of Davis, California, who has long been involved in cat coronavirus and its treatment, is disappointed by the human industry's lack of interest in veterinarians' unique experience in treating coronavirus. The drug, which has been tested in cats, is almost identical to the substance remdesivir from Gilead, which holds licensing rights to this substance. This drug is currently being clinically tested in the US, China and other countries. Although veterinarians have previously tried to motivate Gilead to commercially test a FIP-certified substance, the company perceived the registration of this drug for animals unfavorably and in conflict with the registration of the same drug in humans, as the same registration of the same drug against the same disease could the impression that the medicine for cats will be used in humans. China, where the problem with FIP cats has long been very topical, has solved the problem in its own way: it has started supplying the untested substance to the black market, which has not passed the official approval procedure.
Covid-19 can thus bring one positive moment to veterinarians and breeders alike: if remdesivir is tested in humans and properly registered, the drug may become available in veterinary practices for the treatment of FIP in cats over time. Due to the controversial effect of vaccination and the always fatal course of FIP, an effective drug would be useful.