EAST MANATEE -- A new drug being tested in a nationwide clinical field study could relieve dogs of painful osteoarthritis without the harmful side effects of comparable drugs.
The drug, a chewable pill named CereKin, is composed of diacerein, a molecule used in the treatment of osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis in dogs causes wear and tear on the joint areas and is not much different than human arthritis. The disorder can affect dogs of any age, but usually appears in dogs age 7 and up. Osteoarthritis can cause pain, swelling and limping. Difficulty getting up and down is a common symptom.
Currently there are several non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs on the market to soothe canine osteoarthritis like Rimadyl or Previcox. But those drugs come with side effects such as vomiting and diarrhea and can lead to kidney or liver problems.
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Terry Clekis, a veterinarian at Braden River Animal Hospital, is one of the doctors at 15 centers participating in the study. Clekis, who has been conducting clinical field studies for nearly 25 years, says a new drug with fewer side effects would be beneficial.
"As dogs are living longer, we're seeing more and more dogs with osteoarthritis," he said.
And as veterinarian medicine advances, pet owners are willing to spend more money on treatments.
"Vet medicine has gotten sophisticated and there are a lot more diagnostic options than there were 20 years ago," Clekis said.
William Buhles, medical director at San Francisco-based Kindred Biosciences, the company developing the drug, said CereKin is poised to be safer than the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs out now.
"It has what we call a different side effect profile," he said, noting that the drug won't cause erosion or perforation in the stomach lining like other drugs could.
So far, Clekis has six dogs on the drug, but is looking for more candidates. In the double-blind study, some dogs will get a placebo, while others will get the real drug. In return, they'll get free bloodwork, X-rays, physical exams and medication.
"It takes a special owner to be able to participate," Clekis said. "They have to have time to come for exams and keep record of what's going on at home on a daily basis.
The proper treatment of osteoarthritis -- routine X-rays, blood work, medicine -- can cost owners between $500 and $1,000 per year, Clekis said.
Kindred is expecting to collect results from the clinical field study by the middle of this year. The drug will then go to the Food and Drug Administration for approval.
To be considered for enrollment in Clekis' study, call the Braden River Animal Hospital at (941) 745-1513.
Sabrina Rocco, East Manatee reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7024. Follow her on Twitter @sabrinarocco.