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Interviews

An Exclusive Interview with the Director of Animal Health, Boehringer Ingelheim India

Sunit Kishore
Sunit Kishore

The lives of animals and humans are interconnected in deep and complex ways. When animals are healthy, humans are healthier. By delivering value through innovation, BI works towards enhancing the well-being of both. The company develops solutions and provides services to protect animals from disease and pain. BI offers vaccines, parasiticides and therapeutics, complemented by diagnostics & monitoring platforms to support farmers, veterinarians as well as pet owners who raise and deeply care for their animals.  

Krishi Jagran interviewed Sunit Kishore, Director – Animal Health, Boehringer Ingelheim India to discuss the recently launched innovative recombinant poultry vaccine VAXXITEK® HVT+IBD, a single shot vaccine, ensuring life-long protection against two major immunosuppressive diseases - IBD (Infectious Bursal Disease) and Marek’s Disease for all types of production chicken namely broiler, layer and breeder. 

Question: We see that the livestock animals particularly suffer a lot in winter season, what management practices do you suggest to the livestock farmers? 

The importance of proper livestock care cannot be emphasized enough. As the Indian economy grows and per-capita food consumption increases, an ever-growing demand for protein such as milk, eggs and meat has been witnessed. Thus, it is imperative for farmers to follow effective management practices to protect poultry and livestock to ensure optimal output.  

The winter season, characterized by dropping mercury levels and extreme temperatures, can be difficult for livestock and poultry. Among livestock animals, poultry are particularly sensitive to changes in temperature, despite being homeothermic. Improper care could mean an adverse impact on the health of the animals and the emergence of diseases such as pneumonia, diphtheria etc. along with reduced yields and even death. A temperature-controlled environment significantly contributes towards their wellbeing and farmers can consider making some modifications to animal shelters that ensure there is ample amount of heat retention. At the same time, exposure to sunlight must be facilitated whenever possible through proper ventilation. Furthermore, winters tend to bring an increase in parasitic infections, ranging from ticks and fleas to roundworm and hookworm infestations among livestock animals. Temperature changes, a lack of hygiene and low immunity are the primary reasons behind this, and such preventable diseases can be mitigated through effective medication on a regular basis.  

Question: Why is ensuring optimal animal health important for human health? 

The health and well-being of animals, humans and the environment are deeply interlinked. Increasing population, growing travel across the planet, and the enhanced proximity of humans with animals and the environment has made us more interconnected than ever. The last few years have been a prime example of how ensuring optimal animal health is important for human health, as indicated by the increase in zoonotic diseases – diseases that can be transmitted from animals to human beings.  Therefore, when animals are healthy, humans are healthy as well. As we witness new waves of the pandemic, it is abundantly clear that a radically different approach to health is required. An ‘ecosystems’ view of health is needed: one that not only integrates aspects of our shared ecosystem but also increases access to holistic and quality care.  

Question: What diseases are found in animals these days? How can we manage them? 

Like humans, animals are highly susceptible to various bacterial and viral diseases. Rabies, ringworm and foot and mouth disease are among the most commonly occurring diseases among animals. Apart from these, anthrax, tetanus, and rhinotracheitis are also witnessed in a large number of animals across the country.  

Indian livestock, particularly, poultry often suffer from the twin afflictions of Marek’s disease, a highly contagious viral disease characterized by vision impairment, weight loss, gradual paralysis, and Infectious bursal disease (IBD), also caused by a virus. IBD is characterized by diarrhea, poor appetite and sudden mortality. Newcastle Disease is another highly contagious disease which leads to diarrhea, coughing, and even paralysis. Additionally, Avian Infectious Bronchitis (IB) is a viral respiratory disease which leads to serious problems such as dyspnea, tracheal rales and ultimately a marked reduction in egg quality. These conditions have caused high mortality rates among poultry animals for years and tremendous economic losses to farmers. 

The solution to these conditions lies in proper diagnosis and treatment. The lack of proper hygiene and sanitary conditions for these animals often exacerbates the transmission of the viruses. Maintaining good conditions within enclosures is the first step towards dealing with these diseases. Effective vaccination is another key step towards resolving this problem. Inoculation of poultry when they’re young helps build strong immunity against viral conditions and marked decrease in mortality rates. 

Question: Tell us about BI in detail; what product & services do you offer? 

Boehringer Ingelheim is a 137-year-old, family-owned, German pharmaceutical company. Over the years, it has grown to become one of the world’s most prominent players in the pharmaceutical industry, with innovative solutions for both animal and human health. The company entered the Indian market in 2003, and since then has ranked among the top 10 fastest growing multinational companies in the country. The company’s Animal Health portfolio is focused on the development and manufacturing of vaccines, parasiticides and therapeutics that help combat preventable diseases in animals and employs over 10,000 people in 150 countries around the globe.  

In India, our VAXXITEK® HVT+IBD is a leading poultry vaccine aimed at solving two key problems plaguing the USD 120 Million Indian poultry industry. The single dose vaccine ensures life-long protection against the twin threats of IBD (infectious bursal disease) and Marek’s disease - both of which are known to cause significant losses to poultry businesses - for a wide variety of poultry - broiler, layer, and breeder. Apart from India, it is available in 100 countries worldwide and is the largest selling poultry vaccine globally in terms of revenue.   

We also offer a wide portfolio anti-viral, anti-bacterial and protozoal solutions for cattle and livestock. Ranging from the Ivomec 1% ivermectin anti-roundworm injection to the Diakur Plus oral feed supplement for diarrhea management in young calves, our products address a number of ubiquitous health problems. Furthermore, our product portfolio also consists of medications that help in preventing and treating mastitis, a potentially fatal mammary gland infection, that is most common in dairy cattle worldwide.  

On the companion animal care front, Boehringer Ingelheim’s NexGard® and Broadline anti-parasitic medications are aimed at treating ticks and fleas in canines and felines respectively. NexGard® is the leading brand in the tick and flea segment in India and also the only flea and tick product to receive FDA approval for preventing infections that cause Lyme disease. On the other hand, Broadline protects young felines from a large variety of internal and external parasites including, but not limited to, larvae, hookworms, fleas and tapeworms. Fasnil is another medication that aims at protecting canines and even livestock animals from nematodes, lungworms, nasal bots, and various fluke parasites.  

Question: What plan do you have for your company in the coming 5 years? 

Boehringer Ingelheim India remains steadfast in its commitment to deliver value through innovation and enhance the well-being of animals and humans. In 2020, the company invested over 18% of its net sales into R&D activities. We shall continue providing innovative solutions for the Indian market across both live and vectored vaccines and supporting our customers through vaccine delivery systems and equipment support.  

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