RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
Americans are expected to spend nearly $10 billion this year on medicine for family members who are not human.
Some of the world's biggest drug makers are investing heavily in treatment for pets. Eli Lilly and Pfizer are among the pharmaceutical companies that see a lucrative market in animal drugs, including puppy Prozac and diabetes treatments for cats. George Fennell is vice president of Pfizer's U.S. Companion Animal Division. His company is preparing to launch two new drugs for dogs.
Mr. GEORGE FENNELL (Vice President, Companion Animal Division, Pfizer): Slentrol is used for the management of obesity in dogs - will be released in just a few weeks. And the second medicine is called Cerenia, and Cerenia is indicated for the treatment of acute emesis or vomiting episodes in dogs, also indicated for motion sickness.
MONTAGNE: Is this like a drug you'd give to a dog so he could still sit in the backseat and stick its head out the window?
Mr. FENNELL: It - yeah. Well, I mean, the fact of the matter is, is that the bond between pets and pet owners is increasingly growing. And if there's anything like my dog, you know, when we travel, when we go to Thanksgiving, when we go to grandma and granddad's house, the dogs in the car.
And as because she's a part of the family and some owners experience problems with vomiting episodes because the dog gets motion sickness, and therefore, the dogs got to be left behind or placed in a kennel so this would be a medicine to help people travel with their dog.
MONTAGNE: The demand for animal drugs is growing rapidly. Arlene Weintraub follows the pharmaceutical industry for Business Week magazine. She says profits in pet meds are up more than 50 percent over the last five years.
Ms. ARLENE WEINTRAUB (Reporter, Business Week): That's pretty strong growth. I mean, you know, a lot of the companies would kill for that sort of growth on the human side of the business.
MONTAGNE: The growth in drugs for dogs and cats is just of the burgeoning industry for pet goods and services. Owners are opening their wallets for specialty food items like birthday cakes and designer accessories like leather carrying bags. Weintraub says for many people, their pets are their children.
Ms. WEINTRAUB: So for that reason, a lot of pet owners are very eager to extend the lives of their pets, and they will pay an awful lot of money out of their own pockets to do so.
MONTAGNE: Owners are paying so much that another multi-billion dollar industry is getting into the act. Some insurance companies are now offering policies for pets. Though Arlene Weintraub says that hasn't caught on quite yet…
Ms. WEINTRAUB: Only three percent of dog owners have self-insurance and only 1 percent of cat owners have it. I think they want some, you know, pet owners see how much these treatments costs that they may be more inclined to look very seriously at that option.
MONTAGNE: And some of those new drug treatments can be pricy. Pfizer's obesity drug Slentrol could cost dog owners as much as $2 a day. Some heart medications for dogs run about the same. The cost for treating a cat with feline diabetes is a little less, about $1 a day.