Product Development Projects
Our key focus areas are:
- Life of our Products: the development and promotion of products to improve animal welfare;
- Veterinary Professionals: maintaining and improving the knowledge and skills of veterinarians who prescribe and use our products; and
- Ethics: acting honestly and with integrity.
It is our mission to develop products to improve animal welfare. In line with that commitment, we carefully consider the responsible use and humane treatment of animals in all of our required studies. When we are required to conduct studies to achieve product registrations, we minimise the number of animals to achieve the necessary outcomes. Whenever possible, we will use information that can be derived from existing publications in an effort to limit the number of studies needed.
The scientific purpose of involving animals in the development of our products is reviewed and approved by Regulatory Agencies. For each individual study, an Animal Welfare Committee approves the protocol.
We are committed to the following principles:
- animals must be treated humanely with greatest consideration given to their health and welfare and consistent with meeting the necessary scientific objectives; and
- all animal studies should only be performed after considering whether the numbers of animals can be reduced, replaced by in vitro methods, or the procedures refined to minimise distress.
The Animal Welfare Committee ensures that a minimal number of animals are used and that their treatment is humane, and Dechra inspects all facilities which perform testing to confirm proper care and treatment of animals is evident. Additionally, a full review of the study design will be approved by their Animal Welfare Committee for clinical studies. In all instances only animals with the disease the product is intended to treat will be used and owner consent for the trial is obtained.
All employees, except production and logistics operatives, receive pharmacovigilance training within one month of joining Dechra. This is then verified by the pharmacovigilance e-learning module on Delta. These employees undertake an annual pharmacovigilance refresher training. The pharmacovigilance training outlines the procedure that should be followed by all Dechra personnel if they are informed of a product complaint.
Any time that Dechra receives a report of an adverse event occurring after the administration of one of its products, the Company treats the report seriously and it is Dechra's obligation to review the case to determine whether its product may have caused or contributed to the adverse event. All suspect adverse reactions are reported to the appropriate regulatory authorities.
Read more about our Product Development
Promotion of Products
To maintain the trust of veterinarians and the public, it is important that we provide accurate, fair and objective information on our products and medicines to support their safe and effective use. We do not make false or misleading claims about our products.
We advertise and promote our products fairly using promotional materials which contain balanced, accurate and truthful information. We only promote based on the information included on the Summary of Product Characteristics (SPC)/Product Insert which is a document that is approved by the regulators as part of the marketing authorisation of each medicine. We are members of the industry associations in the majority of countries where we have our own sales teams, and follow the industry association's marketing and promotional guidelines in these countries. All our promotional material is approved internally by an appropriately qualified regulatory manager, technical product manager or veterinarian. In addition, we train all customer-facing employees so that they have sufficient product and disease knowledge to enable them to present information on our products accurately and responsibly. We only promote our products to veterinary professionals, using promotional materials approved by authorised persons independent of the sales force.
Promotional compliance is monitored by our country managers and regional sales managers and the internal audit team also conduct a regular review of compliance processes, and corrective actions are taken to address any issues identified.
The volume and value of payments to animal health professionals is very modest compared to payments to healthcare professionals by the human pharmaceutical industry. We only make modest fee-for-service payments to key opinion leaders who help us develop and deliver educational materials events and to veterinarians who we use to conduct clinical trials. There are currently no regulatory or industry requirements to publicly disclose promotional violations or payments to healthcare professionals.
Our products are all targeted at providing veterinary professionals with solutions for their customer needs. Our products can be divided into four categories: Companion Animal Products (CAP), Food producing Animal Products (FAP), Equine, and Nutrition.
We have developed a strong position in providing specialist and clinically necessary novel CAP products, especially in internal medicine and critical care products such as anaesthesia and analgesia, where we have a wide range providing the veterinarian with an optimal solution for most cases.
Our FAP products are positioned to match current best practice prescribing habits and to meet the growing awareness for the need for better animal welfare standards.
Our relationship with veterinarians is key to our business and therefore, we provided added value services in the form of educational programmes and technical support to maintain and improve the knowledge and skills of veterinarians who prescribe and use our products. In addition, we provide scholarships to the next generation of veterinarians.
We deliver education through many channels, including conferences and our online digital e-learning environment, the Dechra Academy.
During the year, the Dechra Academy has received substantial effort and investment with the launch of a new system in February 2020.
The benefits of the new system include:
- A.I. Powered, the system can recommend similar courses based upon what the user has viewed;
- new promotional capabilities which allow us to highlight new courses and products for our customers; and
- multiple domains which allow us to have a global site and create bespoke versions for each of our key markets.
Using modern design and up-to-date training methodologies we are growing our position as one of the best educational resources for veterinary professionals. The Dechra Academy is a key differentiator for Dechra and our most important digital asset.
Noticeable achievements over the last 12 months are:
- courses available in 18 languages (2019: 16 languages)
- 68,000 registered users (2019: 52,000 registered users)
- 334 courses (2019: 168 courses)
- 2,200 average users per month (2019: 1,060 average users)
- four local market domains (2019: two local market domains)
- promotion and demonstration at two European Congresses
In the EU alone, we held 200 Dechra Academy Live Events with over 7,000 veterinarians attending and 60 Dechra Academy Webinars with over 16,000 veterinarians attending.
Our focus for the next 12 months will be the continued roll out of the local domains, supported by local Marketing Teams, to increase usage of The Academy across the globe. In addition, we are in the process of developing a mobile app to increase our usability and appeal to a younger audience. These will also include a variety of new content for our customers.
During the financial year, we held 2,000 Continuing Professional Development (CPD) sessions in the EU with over 10,000 veterinarians attending and 323 CPD events in North America with 8,023 attendees. Our International business:
- held a two day distributor meeting in Zagreb where training was provided to 39 participants;
- delivered education via seminars to a further 275 veterinarians; and
- held the equivalent of 249 distributor training days.
With the wide range of products we offer which includes those that treat complex and less frequently occurring disorders such as Cushing's and Addison's, the provision of a high quality veterinary technical support is a service that the veterinarians truly value.
Veterinarians across the globe can email technical services or call the telephone support lines provided in all the countries where Dechra operates. Veterinarians call Dechra to discuss:
- treatment options; and
- the ongoing monitoring and management of conditions, particularly those that are lifelong.
Our aim is to help veterinarians optimise the case management of each individual patient, and some veterinarians will call a number of times for support and advice on more complex cases.
In our smaller markets we will have a veterinarian responsible for providing veterinary support. This compares to our larger markets where we have more veterinarians that will collaborate across all sectors of the industry. The UK has one of our largest teams, and in the last financial year this team handled around 8,000 customer enquiries, 52% of which were related to our endocrine treatments Vetoryl and Zycortal. In 2020, the US Veterinary Technical Support team provided technical support for over 9,000 new cases, with close to 40% specific to Vetoryl and Zycortal products. In addition, these larger markets will also have field based veterinarians providing technical support and carrying out 'lunch and learns'.
Our team in Italy have taken the provision of veterinary technical support one step further. They have secured the services of the University of Bologna in order to offer a comprehensive service for veterinarians with questions about endocrinology and anaesthesia – two of our key therapy areas. This service is available to all veterinarians in Italy and is promoted through the sales team and on social media.
Over the financial year there were nearly 500 contacts from veterinarians, 75% of them by telephone. As with the UK, a large number of these calls concerned Cushing's and Addison's, with the majority looking for help with treatment and monitoring of these cases.
"This is a very important service for our customers", says Riccardo Data, the Country Manager for Dechra Italy. "Not only are we helping veterinarians to deal with issues that they are facing on a daily basis, we are also working with the University on interrogating the questions asked and the specific areas that veterinarians are seeking advice on. We can then develop resources that will help support these veterinarians in the future."
As our technical veterinarians have an in-depth knowledge of our products and the diseases they treat they are often called upon to provide education for veterinarians, recent graduates and veterinary students. Their expertise is also put to good use in supporting Dechra's own sales and marketing teams and our distribution partners, enabling all sales teams to be well trained and our marketing messages to be relevant and technically accurate.
We have put a lot of effort into providing a good level of support for our customers and this is reflected in the fact that our UK Veterinary Technical Services team has been ranked by our customers as the 'best in class' technical helpline for four out of the last five years.*
* CM Research Syndicated Sales Rep Survey (over years 2016–2020).
We are committed to acting responsibly and with integrity. We comply with the laws and regulations and respect the traditions and cultures of the countries in which we operate.
Honesty and Integrity
We are committed to acting responsibly and with integrity. This is reflected through our Values. We expect our third parties to trade with honesty and integrity, and to support this we have a Third Party Code of Conduct, which communicates what we expect from our trading partners in relation to health, safety and environmental standards, internationally accepted standards of workers' rights, use of child and forced labour, ethical standards, anti-bribery and anti-corruption, and compliance with relevant laws and regulations.
During the year, we have reviewed all of our policies which underpin our internal Code of Conduct and compiled one page summaries which have been used as a basis for an internal training programme. During the forthcoming year, the training programme will be translated into nine languages and it will be rolled out to all of our employees. Our employees are encouraged to report behaviours that are contrary to our Code of Conduct via our How to Raise a Concern Procedure.
Anti-Bribery and Anti-Corruption
As Dechra continues to launch new products in new markets and enter into collaborative partnerships across the world, Anti-Bribery and Anti-Corruption (ABC) risk continues to be a key focus.
It is our policy to conduct all business in an honest and ethical manner. We take a zero tolerance approach to bribery and corruption and are committed to acting professionally, fairly and with integrity in all our business dealings and relationships wherever we operate, and to implement and enforce effective systems to counter bribery and corruption. The Audit Committee is kept regularly informed of the ABC programme.
All employees are required to comply with the Dechra ABC Policy, which was updated during the 2020 financial year. The ABC Policy clearly defines what constitutes bribery and corruption, outlining prohibited activities and providing guidance on what activities are allowed around the world. A new e-learning course for employees will be rolled out during the forthcoming year across the Group as compulsory training, to be repeated annually. Face-to-face bespoke training has been delivered to the Dechra Veterinary Products International and the Product Development and Regulatory Affairs teams, designed to specifically address areas of risk in the markets in which they operate.
We have also reviewed and updated our customer and supplier onboarding programme during this period, rolling it out across the Group as part of a dedicated training and monitoring exercise. We utilise ABC and Sanctions screening software which assesses Dechra's third party network on a continuous basis. Any new third parties are assessed for ABC risk and are required to complete a due diligence exercise where necessary. There is also an ongoing review of existing third parties at regular intervals (the frequency of which is determined by their ABC risk assessment level). Equally, ABC due diligence procedures are an integral part of all acquisition activity.
Dechra is committed to upholding and respecting human rights both within our business and from our suppliers. During the year, the Board approved a Human Rights Policy, a copy of which can be found on our website. The following sets out our Human Rights principles which are all embedded into our Code of Conduct for employees and our Third Party Code of Conduct for our suppliers and customers.
We do not use forced, bonded or indentured labour or involuntary prison labour or take part in human trafficking. We have a zero-tolerance approach to modern slavery and we are committed to acting ethically and with integrity in all our business dealings and relationships. We are also committed to implementing and enforcing effective systems and controls to prevent modern slavery from taking place anywhere in our own business or any of our supply chains. Our Modern Slavery Statement can be found at www.dechra.com.
- We do not use child labour. We comply with international standards on the minimum age for employment. The minimum age for employment is 16 years of age. However, if the local minimum age law stipulates a higher age for work or mandatory schooling, then the higher age will apply.
- We treat people fairly and do not tolerate bullying and harassment. We do not discriminate for reasons such as age, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, race, colour, ethnicity, disability, religion, political affiliation or union membership.
- We provide a workplace free of harsh and inhumane treatment, including any sexual harassment, sexual abuse, corporal punishment, mental or physical coercion or verbal abuse of workers, and no threat of any such treatment.
- We recruit and promote people on the basis of their personal ability, contribution and potential. We are committed to promoting, supporting and maintaining a culture of fairness, respect and equal opportunity for all.
- We are committed to fair employment practices and comply with national legal requirements regarding wages, including minimum wages, overtime hours and mandated benefits, and working hours.
- We provide a safe working environment for those who work for us or with us. We reinforce good safety management practices and maintain awareness of safe ways of working.