LOY-001: New drug extends dogs’ life by year, gains vets’ support despite risks

Researchers at Hanover University’s vet clinic present Filou, the 3-year-old Belgian shepherd which is able to detect COVID-19 in human saliva samples, in Hanover, Germany, February 3, 2021.—Reuters 

Veterinarians and pet care specialists are rallying behind the development of a groundbreaking drug by biotech company Loyal, designed to potentially extend a dog’s life by up to a year. 

The San Francisco-based company recently achieved a crucial milestone with FDA approval for a key section of the drug’s application, indicating its effectiveness in prolonging canine life. 

Named LOY-001, the drug is anticipated to be available in 2026, with administration options including routine injections and a pill-form alternative, LOY-003.

Dr. Sara Ochoa, a Louisiana-based veterinarian, expressed optimism about Loyal’s announcement, calling it a potential game-changer in veterinary medicine. 

However, she cautioned that the drug’s safety and efficacy need thorough testing through large clinical trials. To provide a comprehensive perspective, Ochoa highlighted five major risks associated with the drug: safety concerns, rigorous efficacy testing, understanding long-term impacts, financial considerations, and ethical implications.

Ochoa emphasised the importance of considering potential drug interactions, citing the need for comprehensive information to ensure the safety and effectiveness of LOY-001. Additionally, she called for rigorous testing to establish the drug’s efficacy and urged awareness of long-term impacts on a dog’s quality of life.

Financial aspects were highlighted as crucial for pet owners, with considerations about the affordability of LOY-001 and potential delays in insurance coverage. Loyal CEO Celine Halioua reassured that the drug would be affordable, not becoming a financial burden.

Ethical considerations were underlined by Ochoa, urging transparency in research methods to address ethical concerns and questioning whether prolonging a dog’s life through medication aligns with their overall well-being.

While the drug has gained support from veterinarians, including Dogdrop CEO Shaina Denny, caution is advised, emphasising the need for thorough research and trials to minimize potential adverse effects on dogs. 

Ochoa and Denny both expressed willingness to support the drug if it proves safe and effective through rigorous testing, ultimately aiming to enhance the lives of beloved pets.

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