Merial is a global animal health company with operations in more than 150 countries and employing 6,200 people worldwide. Our range of pharmaceutical products, vaccines and services enhance the health and well-being of companion animals (dogs, cats and horses), production animals (cattle, poultry, swine), and wildlife (including Endangered Species). Merial’s senior management team is led by Carsten Hellmann, CEO Merial, Executive Vice President and member of the Executive Committee of Sanofi. We invite you to find out more about the products and solutions we offer by checking out Merial At A Glance.
Merial was created in August 1997 when Rhône Mérieux, the animal health division of Rhône-Poulenc, and Merck AgVet, the animal health division of Merck & Co. Inc combined their animal health assets into a 50:50 joint venture. The new company was a stand-alone enterprise with the industry’s broadest line of products and services for the prevention and treatment of animal diseases.
In 2009, Sanofi, who had acquired the former Rhone Mérieux, bought Merck’s 50% stake and Merial became a wholly-owned subsidiary of the company.
Since 2011, Merial is the animal health division of Sanofi. Its global headquarters are located in Lyon, France and the company operates is more than 150 countries with around 6200 employees.
Merial can trace its roots to the late-19th century and the great scientist Louis Pasteur. Merial’s forefather, Marcel Mérieux, who worked in Pasteur’s Paris laboratory, founded the ‘Institut Biologique Mérieux’ (Biological Institute Merieux) in 1897. This was the starting point for Merial’s animal health endeavors.
The first fruits of the Merck animal health legacy included a major advance in 1940 with sulfaquinoxiline - the first efficient anticoccidial. Coccidiosis was then wiping out 10% of US chickens every year making chicken meat as expensive as beef.
Mérieux’s son Charles, who had become the head of the Biological Merieux Institute, drove the development of the first-ever industrial-scale vaccine production in 1947. He also created the Institut Français de la Fièvre Aphteuse (French Institute for Foot & Mouth Disease), specifically to make a foot-and-mouth disease vaccine
In 1962, THIABENDAZOLE was launched - the first broad-spectrum endoparasitic agent, for sheep, cattle and horses.
Another biological milestone was the launch of the first ever rabies vaccine in 1968.
1970s and 80s
In the 1970s, researchers isolated a novel micro-organism (S. avermitilis) from a fungus found on a Japanese golf course. This led to the avermectinfamily of parasiticides and, in particular, ivermectin. Introduced in 1981 as IVOMEC® for cattle and EQVALAN® for horses, ivermectin took the animal health market by storm. It is effective in controlling parasites in a vast array of species from cattle and pigs to horses and companion animals to camels and other wild life. New ivermectin products were produced virtually every year thereafter. In particular HEARTGARD®, introduced in 1987, as a treatment for heartworm in dogs, was a tremendous success. By the second half of the 1980s ivermectin products had become the largest selling animal health treatments in the world.
Observations in the late 1970s on why insects died on plants that had been treated with candidate herbicides led to one of Rhône Mérieux’s greatest commercial animal health contributions – FRONTLINE®. Rhône Poulenc (Rhône Mérieux’s parent company) had acquired the British firm May & Baker in 1922, and May & Baker’s Ongar laboratory had recognized the potential of the fipronil molecule to control fleas and ticks on pets, with FRONTLINE being the resulting veterinary product.
Commercial launch of the ectoparasiticide FRONTLINE in 1994, which eventually took ivermectin’s crown as the world’s best-selling animal health product. To date more than 2 billion doses have been used around the world.
On the pharmaceutical side, Merial launched EPRINEX® within three months of the company’s formation in 1997, for the control of internal and external parasites in cattle. Merial’s portfolio contained what remains to this day the only two blockbusters the animal health sector has ever produced. Over the course of the following years, Merial continued to strengthen its franchise in anti-parasitics, both for production and companion animals.
Merial launched the first of several recombinant vaccines based on the canary pox ALVAC platform, against Lyme disease, canine distemper, equine influenza, West Nile virus and feline infections. The canary pox technology has been complemented by other innovative platforms including the vector vaccines TROVAC® (avian influenza, 1998).
Merial moved into new therapeutic areas with GASTROGARD® (equine stomach ulcers, 2000) and PREVICOX®, the first COX2 osteoarthritis pain reliever to be developed specifically for dogs (2005).
As a pioneer in the field of veterinary biologicals, Merial launched its advanced vector vaccine VAXXITEK® HVT-IBD in 2006 that protects chickens against Marek's disease and infectious bursal disease, allowing for early vaccination in the hatchery in-ovo or at one day of age for the baby chicks. Since the product launched in 2006 more than 40 billion birds have been vaccinated worldwide.
Another first is the therapeutic vaccine, ONCEPT™ for the treatment of melanoma in dogs (2009).
Recent launches include two novel, convenient parasite treatments for pets: BROADLINE™ for cats and NEXGARD® for dogs. BROADLINE is a unique topical product combining 4 active ingredients to prevent and treat both internal and external parasites in cats. NEXGARD is the first and only, monthly beef-flavored soft chew for dogs that kills fleas and ticks.