Weekly companion animal news: March 23, 2020

During COVID-19, vets turn to telemedicine

Telemedicine is a crucial resource during the COVID-19 outbreak, as veterinary hospitals increase remote consultations and put greater precautions in place to maintain cleanliness and social distance during the crisis. Veterinary professionals shared their experiences with Today’s Veterinary Business, another NAVC publication. “I’m seeing increased use of telemedicine,” says practice consultant and veterinarian Mia Cary. “The practices that are further along on the virtual care continuum are having an easier time adjusting to more virtual connections with their clients. Even for practices that are just beginning to dabble with virtual care, it’s a valuable way for any veterinary practice to honor social distancing while continuing to provide top-notch care for their clients and patients.” Most practices are deferring elective procedures to preserve medical supplies, Cary notes. The American Veterinary Medical Association issued a letter to members about how best to implement telemedicine during the pandemic.

Advice for clinics to navigate COVID-19

Practicing veterinarian and consultant Ernie Ward has guided clinics through previous pandemics, so he has some advice for hospitals dealing with the current coronavirus outbreak. Ward posted an 11-minute video and article with recommendations for practice owners and managers. It covers everything from staff and client safety to supply shortages and employee benefits. “While the current coronavirus pandemic is potentially much more severe and wide-reaching than earlier disease outbreaks, I thought it would be helpful to share some of the research and resources we used to navigate” past outbreaks like SARS and H1N1 swine flu, Ward writes. The video and article are available here.

VetFolio to offer free online CE classes during COVID-19 outbreak

As the continuing education deadline approaches for veterinarians to remain licensed, VetFolio announced it’s opening free access to its online curriculum. (VetFolio is a joint venture of LifeLearn Animal Health and NAVC, publisher of Veterinary Advantage.) Veterinary professionals can meet their required credit hours in time for quickly approaching deadlines by accessing select courses through VetFolio for free from home.

Animal shelters call for people to foster pets during pandemic

The Los Angeles County Animal Care and Control department announced major changes in operations due to the coronavirus. Officials said animal control officers would continue responding to public safety and animal welfare calls, such as dangerous dogs, dead animal reports and animal cruelty investigations, but the department is deferring less urgent calls until further notice, the Los Angeles Times reports. Pet owners who want to surrender their pets are asked to delay doing so, and those who have found lost pets are asked to foster them temporarily instead of bringing them in. Shelters are asking for more people to foster pets in case shelter workers and volunteers have to stay home.

New nonprofit helps vet professionals buy and sell practices

A new nonprofit organization wants to help veterinarians buy and sell practices. Veterinary Practice Transition, an online marketplace that officially launched in January, is structured to help sellers and buyers “navigate their way through a direct transfer from the seller to the buyer,” according to the group. “Veterinary Practice Transition will provide a financially-friendly process that will help a retiring practitioner wanting to sell the practice gain access to a viable and profitable exit strategy and ensure that the practice is preserved for years to come,” said Dr. Mark Helfat, the company’s founder. “This service also will help a next-generation practitioner wanting to become a practice owner take a step closer to fulfilling their dream.”

Kindred Biosciences is selling Mirataz to Dechra

Pet pharmaceutical company Kindred Biosciences agreed to sell Mirataz (mirtazapine transdermal ointment), which treats weight loss in cats, to Dechra Pharmaceuticals for an upfront payment of $43 million and royalties on worldwide sales. This puts KindredBio in a better financial position as it scales back commercial initiatives, cuts its workforce by a third and focuses on new products, Today’s Veterinary Business (also published by NAVC) reports. “Given the amount that partners are willing to pay for our assets, and the richness of our pipeline, we have recognized that we can likely achieve better returns for our shareholders while reducing dilutive financing by relying more on a partnership-focused business model,” said CEO Richard Chin. “This model has been very successful in the human pharmaceutical industry, and we expect the same for the veterinary industry.”