Retrospectacle: A Neuroscience Blog

i-147001ed5637d0f43f2b0355eeac269c-FatDog.jpgI’m sure you’ve heard of it by now, as numerous blogs (from Big Fat Blog to Effect Measure to Corpus Callosum) have been buzzing with the news of Pfizer’s pet obesity drug Slentrol. As a very brief re-cap, this liquid drug is administered to overweight dogs and cats to induce a sense of ‘full-ness,’ and reduce their food intake. Why this couldn’t be accomplished by feeding them less rather than relying on them to voluntarily eat less (‘fat’ chance), I’m not sure. But, fact is, the drug is now here and its going to make Pfizer a boat-load of cash (as planned) despite it seeming to fill an non-existent market.

This high-profile and unusual drug comes at a carefully planned-out time for Pfizer. Yes, that would be coincidental with the up-coming expiration of Pfizer’s patent on the current best-selling drug in the world, Lipitor. Lipitor (Atorvastatin) is in the statin drug class, meant to regulate cholesterol, and in 2005 netted Pfizer a cool $12.2 billion. So when Pfizer loses its patent on Lipitor in a few years, it also loses an enormous chunk of its yearly profits. That won’t happen for a bit longer (in 2010), but they’ve already suffered the loss of several other major patents: Zithromax in 2005, Zoloft in 2006, and Norvasc in 2007. These, with Lipitor, are their cash cows. When the cash cow dies, replacements must be found. I’d bet that Pfizer has more than just this new drug up its sleeve, more will likely follow in the next couple of years. But, certain folks might be thinking that Pfizer’s interest in pet drugs might smack of desperation insofar that they don’t expect a blockbuster like Lipitor anytime soon.

And as to why I think Slentrol will make Pfizer a lot of money has to do with pet-owner guilt. Why do people overfeed their animals in the first place? Likely to make up for leaving them home all day, or away on vacation, or that missed walk in the park, time that couldn’t be spent. Pet food doesn’t come with FDA labels as to caloric content and other specifics, so its easy to far exceed what would be a healthy diet for a pet. Most vets will attest that this, as well as decreased exercise, has resulted in dogs and cats as fat as their American owners. So, a drug that treats poor BooBoo’s weight problem will be quite popular, especially since most pet owners rely on something looking wrong with their pets to know that something is wrong. Fido may not be able to tell you he has diabetes but that enormous gut is rather hard to miss.

One last piece of disturbing information, gleaned from a comment by a vet on Effect Measure’s blog. Likely, Pfizer meant this drug for humans, but copped to the animal indication instead due to the lower threshold for approval.

…would like to note, however, that many of these drugs, whilst marketed to pet owners, are developed initially for humans. Their registration for animal use is a side effect of their registration for human use, as animal trials are often done preceding human ones. We have a lot of useful drugs for animals that way. This one, perhaps not so useful.


  1. #1 Robster
    January 10, 2007

    As servent to a an overweight cat, I can explain how she got that way. We left food out for her (and the other two cats) 24/7 because it was easy. Since then, we have had to put her on prescription food to deal with allergies, and we measure food and put it out twice a day. Add on top of all of this, bladder problems for which the treatment causes lethargy… It isn’t easy to get her weight down. I really doubt that we’ll use this drug, as we are getting some results with the feeding schedule. Travel is difficult, admittedly, and we tend to just leave food out grazing style.

  2. #2 Shelley Batts
    January 10, 2007

    Another thing I thought about is that ppet food manufacturers list rather large portion sizes on the labels. As breeds vary so much in size and weight, how can you know if whats good for a mastiff is good for a terrier?

  3. #3 Jake Young
    January 10, 2007

    What worries me the most about this is not the fat pets. Do you know how many people are going to try and take their pet’s medicine? It is going to be ridiculous.

    As I understand it, the drug works by blocking fat uptake in the intestines. Now ER docs around this nation are going to have to deal with hundreds of pet owners coming in with unexplained rectal leakage.

  4. #4 Shelley Batts
    January 10, 2007

    Perhaps they could get around that by making it taste like something dogs/cats love but people hate. Like extreme fish taste for cats and rotten meat for dogs. Guess they’d have to make sure it didn’t SMELL like that, or else no one would open the bottle…..

  5. #5 Tim Murtaugh
    January 10, 2007

    to the first commenter — I have two cats, and they always have food available, as much as they want (I am also lazy), and they are anything but fat. One is beefy, muscular, the other is skinny skinny. I wonder what the different between my cats and yours is.

    Of course, my skinny cat eats one piece at a time, pulling each one out onto the floor before he eats it, so it takes him a while to eat a lot 🙂

  6. #6 knobody
    January 10, 2007

    i have three cats. one massively fat, one becoming fat, and one skinny girly cat. the way the fat one stays fat is by eating food put out for the other two. i feed them only the amounts my vet tells me to, but rocky still manages more than his fair share. since cats prefer to graze all day it’s difficult to monitor food intake in a multicat household. so, rocky stays fat and mardi gras stays skinny. but rocky is 10 years older than mardi gras, so someday he’ll be too old to put up much of a fight at the food dish.

  7. #7 Jake Young
    January 10, 2007

    By the way, I think it is “Norvasc” not “Zorvasc”…

  8. #8 Shelley Batts
    January 10, 2007

    Heh, thanks. I musta got carried away with all those ‘z’ s.

  9. #9 truth machine
    January 10, 2007

    “Like extreme fish taste for cats and rotten meat for dogs.”

    Dog don’t like rotten meat. In fact, the unpleasantness of rotten food may be an evolutionary result of microorganisms competing with scavengers for food sources.

    (SB: Its wasn’t a definite suggestion. The point was something that humans would find unappealing.)

  10. #10 Bob Abu
    January 10, 2007

    This sounds like a winner.

    If this thing can be used off label in humans, doesn’t kill anyone and seems to work, it is a billion dollar drug easy.

    If it does kill someone, it is not being used for its intended purpose and Pfizer should have no liability.


    Buy Pfizer stock now. The symbol is PFE.

  11. #11 kemibe
    January 11, 2007

    Finally! A way to control the girth of all of those intrepid dogs and cats who have learned to open cupboards and refrigerators, unscrew peanut-butter jar lids, and operate both conventional and microwave ovens when no one is looking. I KNEW there was a way to keep these relentless critters from going all bloaty on us!

    Now all we need as some ind of hypothermia-inducing pill so that when dogs manage to get themselves locked in cars with the windows rolled up in July, they can survive long enough for their owners to come back from the shopping mall.

    Jesus H. leptin-lappin’ Christ in a slow-release preparation.

  12. #12 catswym
    January 11, 2007

    i tend to think it is not just how much food animals eat but, just as for humans, WHAT food they eat.

    most commercial animal food is absolute garbage.

  13. #13 anonimouse
    January 11, 2007

    As long as Pfizer doesn’t get into the ED business for animals, I’m ok with this.

  14. #14 Laura
    January 11, 2007

    Just FYI, Slentrol is technically only for use in dogs. Cats were found to have increased risk of hepatic lipidosis during weight loss when given the drug. So what’s good for the dog might not necessarily be good for the owner…

  15. #15 Shelley Batts
    January 11, 2007

    Thanks for the clarification Laura. I tracked down Slentrol’s indication/info sheet if anyone would like to have a gander.

  16. #16 Lab Lemming
    January 12, 2007

    How ’bout a drug that makes bosses send employees home at 5 on the dot so that we can walk the dog?

  17. #17 MJ Memphis
    January 12, 2007

    “Dogs don’t like rotten meat.”

    Well, maybe *your* dogs don’t. Having had to pry the jaws of one of my German Shepherds open to remove the dead and very pungent squirrel she was munching on, I can say with absolute certainty that some dogs do, indeed, like their meat very…. well-aged. Some of them (fortunately, this time, not my dogs) also enjoy rolling around on a nice, stinky animal carcass.

  18. #18 Mercedez
    July 10, 2007

    Perhaps if these morons put their animals are a two feedings a day diet, it will be better for us people who pay medical bills and for those animals who are fat and for those animals who are still being tested on in science labratories…

  19. #19 llewelly
    July 29, 2007

    Wasn’t this drug originally designed for humans, but failed at some point in the trials, and then re-targeted to dogs?

  20. #20 maya
    October 22, 2007

    who ever let their dog or cat get this fat should be locked up and put away because this is rediculus

  21. #21 Linda Corpe
    July 13, 2008

    Great website. We need to keep educating the general public about pet obesity as it shortens their already short lives. We want them to live as long as possible. Your right. Just feed them less and keep them off the chemicals. We should do the same for ourselves. Thanks for writing this.

  22. #22 film izle
    September 25, 2008

    Nice article, though.

  23. #23 Brandon
    October 21, 2008

    I think that fat dogs should be put in every home in America and if any of you fags disagree then i will personally shove your asses into puppy mills and starve you all. FAT DAWGS FO LIFE!!!

  24. #24 sonia
    November 11, 2008

    Please could you tell me who owns this dog as i have somone claiming it belongs to them and i really do not think it is his dog. Or just could you say what country this dog resides in please, Many Thanks

  25. #25 SARA
    November 15, 2008

    i feel sooo bad for your dog!!!! loks sooo cute and adorablee!!!!! one thing i want to noe….is there something that would help him???? i love dogs and juss looking at your dog really touched me.

    the best of luck!

    a dog owner,
    Sara and buddy(my dog)

  26. #26 vannesa
    November 15, 2008

    i feel really bad for that dog. If I was the owner i would take him to a place that can help him it is very sad

  27. #27 Empress Celena
    July 4, 2009

    The truth about human and pet obesity is Monsanto’s Genetically modified foods. It is all toxic waste that causes obesity and they want to blame it all on us. Well it is not going to work and who wants cancer?

  28. #28 yvonne
    July 7, 2009


    Great site!!!! Obesity is the cause of many diseases. There are a lot of American’s that are over weight. We have to stop eating FAST FOODS it is killing us. Good health is our greatest asset without good health we are doomed to die. We need to eat right, exercise and drink plenty of water to help maintain good health and well-being

  29. #29 Riddick
    July 14, 2009

    This is a lot of misinformation here. What a quack artical

  30. #30 amyn
    September 30, 2009

    sounds like a winner to me and if you or anyone you know is addicted to drugs call Narconon today.

  31. #31 amyn
    October 6, 2009

    If you or anyone you know is addicted to drugs call Narconon today

  32. #32
    September 16, 2010

    it’s a funny thing that dogs looks like bear 🙂

  33. #33
    September 16, 2010

    it’s a funny thing that dogs appear as a bear 🙂

  34. #34 gene belle
    March 15, 2011


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