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Editor's Note:
Chris Ragland is vice president of commercial operations, Intervet Inc. Ragland's animal health career began as a field sales representative with American Hoechst Corporation in 1985. Since then, he has held key management positions in the poultry, feed additive and productivity enhancers markets in the U.S. and Europe. As a result of Intervet's acquisition of Hoechst Roussel Vet, Ragland was initially named vice president of market development and assumed responsibility for the U.S. commercial operations in 2000.

Intervet Inc. ( is currently ranked among the top three global animal health suppliers. Intervet Inc., a division of Akzo Nobel, maintains its U.S. headquarters in Millsboro, Del., and its international headquarters in Boxmeer, The Netherlands.

AM: How has Intervet's rise to among the top three leading global animal health companies affected Intervet and its perspective on the animal health industry?

Dramatically and not at all. The scale has greatly expanded, doubling globally and increasing four-fold in the U.S. since 1998. With that change came the normal host of logistical systems and personnel issues associated with such rapid and significant growth. We've undertaken the largest site development project in the history of the company in De Soto, Kan., and one of the industry's largest site-transfer projects ever to optimize our vaccine production.

However, our perspective on the animal health industry remains unchanged. Intervet is a global agricultural business, focused on veterinary health, with our primary efforts concentrated on food production. At the same time, we have developed one of the industry's largest portfolios of equine health care products and are slowly, but steadily, entering the companion animal arena.

AM: As one of the "survivors" of the ban in the European market, how has Intervet chosen to address the use of antibiotics in animals?

As a leading supplier of food production technologies, Intervet has been actively addressing concerns raised by clients, regulatory authorities and advocacy groups for more than 15 years. Our approach is very simple: identify the underlying scientific concerns, bring forward the relevant data and focus the discussion on the facts. The key question in the European Union discussions was that of potential bacterial resistance originating in animals causing human disease and the role certain antibiotics could play in this phenomenon. We were able to concentrate on a scientific discussion and ultimately demonstrate that our feed additive products pose no such threat. By supporting research initiatives with several leading authorities on human drug resistance, Intervet provided a thorough assessment of how our products affect resistance development; confirming that the products were not only safe, but may, in fact, offer significant food safety advantages. I can't overemphasize the importance of moving these discussions away from the emotional issues favored by the advocacy groups, concentrating on the scientific questions and undertaking the basic research efforts needed to address the valid concerns raised by consumers.

AM: How will these types of discussions affect the long-term development of new food production technologies for the U.S. animal health industry?

Significantly. The number of production technologies under development are decreasing, as the regulatory processes are becoming increasingly complex, time consuming and costly. The downside for veterinary medicine will be a decline in the number of new technologies from the pharmaceutical arena and an increasing reliance on preventative technologies, specifically vaccines, improved genetics and management systems. The food production industry has proven strong, resourceful and resilient. We will likely need all three attributes to work our way through the challenges this particular issue will present in the future.

AM: How is Intervet using the Web in its marketing efforts?

Certainly as an information source, the Internet is an increasingly important element in the marketing mix. As manufacturers' Web sites become more user friendly and offer more sophisticated levels of information and interactivity, clients will consider this a more reliable and useful means of gathering information, communicating with suppliers and, where offered, purchasing products. Given Intervet's strong focus on the production industries, our primary focus lies with the information and communication aspects. AM

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