I read the most wonderful news the other night. Finally, there’s a cure for FIP in cats.
Of all the awful diseases that can affect our cats, FIP is the absolute worst. It’s a cruel disease, and it’s almost always fatal. But after years of study, veterinarian Niels Pedersen, professor emeritus at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, says it’s time for FIP in cats to lose its lethal label.
FIP (Feline Infectious Peritonitis) is caused by a coronavirus that infects almost all kittens. It causes mild diarrhea, and then pretty much disappears. But in some cats, it goes rogue and mutates into the deadly disease we call FIP.
The first phase of clinical trials for a drug that could cure FIP ended in the fall of 2016. Researchers at Kansas State University treated eight cats who were sick from FIP with the antiviral protease inhibitor, GC376. Sadly, two of the cats became so sick they were euthanized. But the other six recovered and were still doing well eight months later. And that was just the beginning.
While further research uncovered some problems with GC376, Pedersen found another compound, GS-441524, to be highly effective.
Jumping Over Hurdles To Cure FIP In Cats
But it turns out that bringing a cure for FIP in cats to market isn’t easy. In addition to the lengthy FDA approval process, there have been problems with Gilead Sciences, the company that makes the compound.
Pedersen was employed by Gilead when he found that GS-441524 could cure FIP. But Gilead wouldn’t grant animal rights for the compound because the company was afraid that would interfere with its Ebola research.
“Anything you find in any animal species has to be reported to the FDA, so if we were to find something bad in cats, it could completely poison the human side of it,” he said at a Winn Feline Foundation FIP symposium.
But, he added, there’s always the black market. And that’s where vets and people with cats who have FIP can find GS-441524.
“Savvy people have been able to synthesize the compound themselves—all formulas have to be published, so this is all known.
“I don’t recommend people buy drugs from these sources,” most of them in Asia, he said. “But I can’t stop them either. It’s an interesting situation to be in. The best I can do is encourage people to interact with their veterinarians — those veterinarians who will interact with them.
“There are veterinarians who say they want nothing to do with this whole thing and that’s fair enough. And there are veterinarians who say, ‘Listen. I will work with clients. If they can get the drugs, I will work with them to make sure the cat is properly monitored, that the drug is administered correctly and that the side effects are dealt with.’”
Help Now For Cats With FIP
While GC376 may still be a long way from your vet’s office in the U.S., there are things to do for cats with FIP now.
Prednisone, interferons and some supplements and antioxidants can extend the length of life and improve the quality of life for cats with FIP.
To learn about treatments, take a look at leading FIP researcher Diane Addie’s handout for veterinarians. To find out how to buy GS-441524 join the FIP Warriors Facebook group. You’ll find other information and support there, too.