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Rochester Top 100: Speed, quality make VetPharm a rare breed

Rochester Business Journal
June 7, 2013

Speed and technology have played key roles in the growth of VetPharm Inc. over the last few years in an industry notorious for the significant amount of time it takes to move a product from concept to market.
 
The 13-year-old East Rochester company manages clinical trials for firms that develop products for pets. Clients include pharmaceutical, nutrition, nutraceutical and device companies, nationally and internationally.
 
"When you think about clinical trials, sometimes the vision of the entire spectrum-which can be anywhere from 10 to 15 years of development-comes to mind," said Denni Day, president and CEO. "Our part is at the very end of the development cycle."
 
That is one of the reasons speed is essential, Day said.
 
"Knowing that the patent life is only 20 years, that doesn't give much time to have the exclusive position in the market to sell their product before the generic companies come on their tail and make their products similarly," she explained.
 
Day declined to disclose revenues but noted that for the last several years growth has averaged nearly 25 percent annually.
 
"Much of the growth that we've seen over the last three years was the result of targeted marketing efforts that we made four, five and even six years ago," Day said. "Another contributing factor was our embrace of technology to improve the quality of our results and the speed of its delivery."
 
Electronic data capture has simplified the collection of data from VetPharm's field locations, has reduced data entry error and has accelerated the biostatistical analysis and medical writing segments of the clinical trial process.
 
"These savings translate into lower costs and faster FDA approvals for our customers' new products," Day said.
 
Day's passion and development of a process to shorten the time from trial to marketplace have contributed to the company's success, said Patrick Niland, executive vice president and chief financial officer.
 
"The first product of a particular type usually controls the market, has the largest revenues and the longest revenue cycle. Our ability to provide high-quality results quickly has tremendous value for our customers," Niland said. "That's why we've grown."
 
VetPharm has eight employees, down from 10 in 2012 but in line with staffing in 2010 and 2011. The company also has 55 part-time field monitors in locations around the country.
 
"The industry is somewhat cyclical so we have to be cautious in how we hire," Niland said. "The way our model is set up we can manage multiple trials with a team of people. As we grow we keep adding teams but that allows us quite a bit of overlap in terms of handling different projects because they don't all come at once."
 
Niland expects to add a few staffers in the near future, but VetPharm likely will grow to no more than 25 people locally because of its business model.
 
Day founded the company in 2000, on the suggestion of Niland, after a career doing related work at the University of Rochester Medical Center.
 
"He encouraged me because of my interest in animals to do similar work, but do it in order to help animals rather than people," Day recalled, noting that the company will accept only trials it deems ethical. "Helping animals also helps people. If I'll enroll my dogs in a study and I feel it's safe enough to do that, then we'll do it here."
 
Day sees two challenges that VetPharm will need to overcome in the next couple of years: increasing competition and utilizing new technology.
 
"We plan to meet that (competition) challenge by continually improving our systems and processes to deliver higher-quality results, in less time, at greater value for our customers," she said.
 
Many customers have conducted most or all of their past clinical trials in-house, Day said, establishing ways of doing things they are reluctant to change.
 
"For some of them, just deciding to outsource is a big step in and of itself. So getting them to try our way can be difficult," she explained. "However, we recognize that this will be a gradual process of earning our customers' trust through performing to their expectations and then introducing incremental change."

The Rochester Top 100 program is presented by the Rochester Business Alliance Inc. and KPMG LLP. Launched in 1987, it recognizes the fastest-growing private companies in Greater Rochester. This year's Rochester Top 100 event will be held Nov. 6. For more information, go to rochesterbusinessalliance.com.

VetPharm Inc.
Manages clinical trials for firms that develop products for pets.
2012 ranking: 23
Founded: 2000
Location: East Rochester
Top executive: Denni Day, president and CEO
Employees: 8
Website: healthieranimals.com

6/7/13 (c) 2013 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email service@rbj.net.
 


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