History

1968-2018: a half-century of commitment to animal health

From a small biology research center established in 1968 in a three-room apartment in Nice to the world’s seventh largest laboratory, partnering worldwide with veterinarians and animal owners: a lot of water has flowed under the bridge! A look back at five decades of contribution to animal health.

VétérinaireToday, 56% of the world’s inhabitants share their daily lives with at least one companion animal*.

Upon Virbac’s founding in 1968, France is still an agricultural nation, where food producing animals prevail. Almost 90% of veterinarians work in rural areas, as compared to around 22% in 2015**.

Nonetheless, although companion animals do not enjoy the status that they will later earn in the hearts of the French people, veterinarian Pierre-Richard Dick already feels that dogs and cats deserve the same attention accorded to food producing animals.

This pursuit of the health and well-being of all animal species, so dear to Virbac’s founder, is deeply anchored today in the company’s values. It serves as daily guidance to teams around the world.

Listening to veterinarians, farmers, and animal owners

FarmpackTo provide useful solutions that improve veterinary practice and the care given to animals, Virbac strives to meet tangible needs with safe, efficient and easy-to-use products.

To do so, veterinarians, farmers, and owners, who are in permanent contact with the animals, became from the outset the main source of inspiration.

Result: Virbac often releases the right product at the right time. Many of these innovations will enjoy lasting success. Such is the case for many variations of the parasiticide collar, almost 300 million of which have outfitted dogs and cats for 40 years!

 

GaléniqueIn this constant search for ingenuity and pragmatism, one of Virbac’s major innovations is in formulation. The creation of a dedicated laboratory in the mid-’70’s opens the door to a level of inventiveness that has not been refuted since.

Evidence of this is the design of extended release bolus in 1985 for the parasiticide treatment of ruminants. Another is micro-encapsulation technology, that in 1997 serves as the basis for the first dermatology dog and cat shampoo that still acts after rinsing.

Consultation vétérinaireAs for biology, the virus was inoculated at Virbac from its inception.

Trained at the Pasteur Institute, during the 1970’s veterinary doctor Pierre-Richard Dick harnesses his knowledge to develop vaccines, now indispensable to veterinary practice.

On the strength of scientific partnerships with international research laboratories, the company would design landmark biological products: first homologous vaccine against canine parvovirus in 1982; first genetically engineered vaccine against feline leukemia in 1988; and first vaccine against canine leishmaniosis in Europe in 2009.

Not to mention the oral anti-rabies vaccine for foxes, delivered by helicopter!

Because animal health knows no borders

IndeVery soon after creating Virbac, Pierre-Richard Dick sensed that animal health was a global issue.

For Virbac, the first foreign explorations begin in the ’70’s in Europe. Wanting to work for animal health everywhere in the world, the company gradually offers international health solutions through its own subsidiaries, starting in Germany in 1982.

Until today, where the Group offers its products in more than 100 countries and operates production units and R&D centers on five continents.

A regionalization of research and production that allows it to respond up close to local health problems.
 

Animal health from all angles

ChienIn the 1970’s, there is a sense of urgency around public opinion in developed countries, where there is already an increased awareness of well-being and protection. In response to this, France enacts a law, which in 1976 recognizes the animal as “a sentient being.” In turn, Unesco declares the Universal Declaration of Animal Rights in 1978. Pierre-Richard Dick is convinced that the quality of the relationship between man and his companion animal, increasingly considered as a full-fledged member of the family, is determined as much by the animal’s well-being as by its health. As a function of this belief, Dick would gradually construct the company’s offering with this global approach in mind. Today’s range of Virbac products includes a complete set of solutions for diagnosis, prevention, treatment and, more generally, for the quality of animal life. In this particular area, Virbac strives to address the day-to-day issues by developing dental hygiene, skin, eye, and ear solutions as well as food supplements, soothing products and nutritional solutions.

A resolutely future-oriented approach

AquacultureAccording to the World organization for animal health, 75% of emerging diseases in man originate from animals. Aware of the interrelationships in the living world, Virbac plans to contribute to animal health by fully integrating the link that connects people, animals, and their environment. The Group is thus involved in the fight against zoonoses (rabies, leishmaniosis, dirofilariasis, etc.) while bearing in mind the major challenges of food safety and quality. Evidence of this is research into alternatives to antibiotics and gradually making vaccines dedicated to food producing animals available to veterinarians. Not to mention its contribution to the development of the aquaculture sector, promoting a future animal protein. Finally, its engagement through the Target 150 program in support of global solutions in the dairy farming sector, because healthy cows produce better milk!

It has now been fifty years, which have allowed Virbac to construct solid foundations in the best interests of animal health. Nonetheless, there are still numerous challenges to address in relation to the ongoing emergence of new diseases and the importance of animal health for the health of ecosystems. To this end, the company is continuing to evolve: innovative, learning, and agile, with men and women committed to provide ingenious solutions to professionals and always better care for animals.

* Source: GFK 2016: http://www.gfk.com/fr/insights/press-release/les-proprietaires-danimaux-de-compagnie-plus-nombreux-en-amerique-latine-en-russie-et-aux-etats-unis/ [more owners of companion animals in Latin America, Russia, and the United States] [French-language only].

** Source: Observatoire national démographique de la profession vétérinaire [national demographic observatory of the veterinary profession] – 2016.

*** From 7800 to 3063. Source Bull. Acad. Vet. France – 2005 – Volume 158 no. 2 – www.academie-veterinaire-France.fr [veterinary academy France].

Highlights

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1968

PRD.pngCreation of the SARL Virbac biological research center.

1970

1970.pngVirbac starts marketing its products internationally, thanks to distribution partnerships in Benelux and Germany.

1970

COLLIER.pngVirbac develops the first insecticide collar for dogs, which would later become one of the Group’s flagship products.

1973

batiment-construction.pngVirbac constructs the first building of its future headquarters in Carros, near Nice, quickly adding a production and storage unit and a loading dock.

1977

rilexine.pngVirbac offers the first cephalosporin in veterinary medicine (for dogs, cats and cattle), in France, thus providing an alternative to the cephalosporins derived from human pharmaceuticals.

1982

parvovirus.pngIn response to the viral gastroenteritis epidemic decimating dog breeding, Virbac creates the first parvovirus-based vaccine approved for dogs, thus entering the very exclusive club of innovative vaccine-developing laboratories.

1982

filiale-allemagne.pngOpening of the first subsidiary in Germany, following acquisition of local distributor VMG, thus marking the beginning of Virbac’s deployment in Europe.

1985

bourse.pngVirbac, the number-two French animal health laboratory, starts to trade on the secondary market of the Paris stock exchange.

1987

allerderm.pngWith the acquisition of Allerderm Inc., Virbac enters the US market, where it specializes in the new veterinary dermatology market and becomes a global leader a few years later.

1988

leucogen.pngWith the first genetically engineered vaccine against feline leukemia made from a purified p45 FeLV-envelope retrovirus, Virbac provides veterinarians with an effective solution against a disease in cats for which there was no cure at the time.

1989

imperial-dog.pngVirbac acquires Imperial Dog, a dog and cat food manufacturer, founded by the creator of Royal Canin, now Virbac Nutrition.

1991

vaccin-renard.pngIn Europe, Virbac offers the first oral anti-rabies vaccine for foxes, obtained by selective mutation.

1992

PRD-JD.pngVeterinarian doctor Pierre-Richard Dick, founder of Virbac, dies suddenly at the age of 55 while on a Central American sea voyage. Pascal Boissy, then financial director, succeeds him to head the company. Six months later, the company adopts a new organizational structure made up of an executive board and a supervisory board, of which Jeanine Dick, wife of the founder, become chairwoman.

1992

asie.pngVirbac continues its international expansion with the creation of its first subsidiary in Asia (a partnership with Maruyasu, a Japanese import-export company).

1996

fusion.pngNumerous companies created to develop the company on French territory merge into a single subsidiary, Virbac France, formalizing the beginning of the Virbac umbrella brand.

1998

jelaime,jelevaccine.pngThrough its “I love my pet, I vaccinate it” poster campaign, Virbac raises the general public’s awareness of vaccination in France.

1999

EM.pngEric Marée, 48 years old, graduate of HEC and holder of an MBA from Cornell University in the United States, becomes chairman of the Virbac executive board.

1999

stlouis.pngThanks to the acquisition of Agri-Nutrition, a company based in St. Louis (Missouri), Virbac acquires a range of dental care and hygiene products.

2001

virbagen-omega.pngVirbac offers veterinarians the first interferon omega for dogs and cats in Europe.

2001

fondation2001.pngThe Pierre-Richard Dick Foundation, created in 1993 after the founder’s death, becomes the Virbac Corporate Foundation. Chaired by his son, Jean-Pierre Dick, it aims to raise public awareness, educate and inform, especially children, about issues related to the integration and well-being of animals in cities.

2001

JPdick.pngVirbac joins Jean-Pierre Dick, son of the founder and doctor of veterinary medicine, on his sailing adventure: through his involvement in epic races, the skipper helps to enhance the veterinary profession and promote animal health.

2006

MHDick.pngMarie-Hélène Dick, daughter of the founder, veterinary doctor and MBA graduate from HEC, is named chairwoman of Virbac’s supervisory board.

2006

inde.pngVirbac becomes number one in India through the acquisition of Agrivet Farm Care, the animal health branch of GlaxoSmithKline.

2008

prod.pngWith 7 production units, Virbac currently has an industrial park on all five continents (France, United States, Mexico, Brazil, Australia, South Africa and Vietnam).

2008

suprelorin.pngVirbac offers veterinarians the first deslorelin-based implant for the induction of temporary infertility in male dogs.

2010

australie.pngVirbac signs an agreement with Pfizer Inc. to acquire the Australian rights to a range of products for food producing animals, primarily parasiticides and vaccines for cattle and sheep.

2011

canileish.pngVirbac launches the first vaccine against canine leishmaniasis in Europe.

2012

aqua.pngVirbac acquires a majority share of Centrovet, animal health market leader in Chile, expert in the development and production of innovative products for the protection and treatment of cold water aquaculture farms (salmon and trout).

2015

cochon.pngVirbac acquires Schweitzer Biotech Company, a Taiwanese company that is an expert in the development of cell culture banks serving as the basis for production of viral vaccines primarily for swine and poultry. This acquisition formalizes the creation of a new biology R&D structure in Southeast Asia, a region recognized for the largest swine and aquaculture (warm water) markets on the planet.

2015

fondation.pngThe Virbac Corporate Foundation, aware of the challenges related to the interconnection between animal, human, and environmental health, initiates support for a screening, control, and prevention program for bovine tuberculosis and rabies in the Gonarezhou Park (Zimbabwe).

2016

argonavis.pngAfter the construction of VB8 in Carros in 2014, a production building dedicated to the manufacture of sterile injectables, Virbac continues to invest in quality and to strengthen its production capacities with Argo Navis, VB8’s alter ego in Mexico.

2017

petfood.pngAfter the physiological range in 2016, Virbac launches a range of dietetic petfood for dogs and cats. Their composition is particularly suited to the dietary needs of carnivores.

2017

voile.pngAt the helm of St. Michel-Virbac, Jean-Pierre Dick wins his fourth Jacques Vabre Race (a first in the history of the Coffee Race). This victory marks a turning point in the life of the sailor and the most fitting closure to his 17 years of adventures around the world, flying Virbac’s colors.

2017

SH.pngSébastien Huron, 47 years old, doctor of veterinary medicine, head of Global Business Operations, and member of the executive board since 2012, succeeds Éric Marée as chairman of Virbac.