Veterinarians may be wrong in assuming that horse owners will generally prefer the lowest-cost treatment, the findings of a trial suggest.
Researchers at the animal health company Zoetis conducted a trial around two effective treatments for equine bacterial infections.
The study used 27 veterinarians from 11 equine practices in various regions of the United States. In total, the treatment of 137 horses was included.
Horse owners were given the choice of two treatment options:
- Two intramuscular injections with the company’s antiobiotic EXCEDE (ceftiofur crystalline free acid), given by the veterinarian four days apart; or
- Client administration of oral trimethoprim-sulfonamide tablets twice daily for 10 consecutive days.
Notably, there was a wide variance in the veterinarian’s pre-treatment cost estimate per horse. The estimated cost of EXCEDE was more than double that of the tablet-based treatment (Table 1).
Overwhelmingly, 93.1% of horse owners selected two doses of EXCEDE over the twice-daily tablet treatment for 10 days.
All the horses were examined on Day 4 to evaluate treatment response, to give the second injection to those being treated with EXCEDE and, in the case of the group on tablets, to verify compliance in giving the oral medication.
The average treatment response scores for both drug regimens were comparable at Days 0 and 10.
However, 100% of the horses treated with EXCEDE achieved full treatment compliance compared with 75% of horses treated with the tablets.
In the end, the average actual cost of treatment with EXCEDE was just $US20.80 greater than the tablet antibiotic treatment.
The research indicated that the assumption horse owners will opt for the cheaper option left out two key factors: treatment compliance and client convenience.
This was largely confirmed in a post-treatment survey. Convenience was judged more important than price in the horse owner’s perception of value. In this case, EXCEDE was seen as more convenient than the tablet-based treatment option.
The trial proved horse owners overwhelmingly preferred the most convenient therapeutic option despite higher cost.