KCK-based pet medicine company posts loss but stays hopeful

The Kansas City area’s newest publicly traded company posted a second-quarter loss in its pursuit of medicines for cats and dogs.

Aratana Therapeutics Inc., whose shares first traded publicly in June, said Tuesday that it lost $4.2 million in the three months ending June 30. It had lost $3.1 million a year earlier.

Losses are big because the Kansas City, Kan.-based company is still developing drugs and doesn’t yet sell any products. It hopes that its first product approval in the United States and Europe will come in 2016.

The stock sale raised $34.2 million for Aratana, boosting its cash on hand to $57.1 million in early July.

The company’s chief financial officer, Louise Mawhinney, told analysts during a conference call Tuesday that $45 million to $50 million still will be on hand at end of this year. The pace of spending is aimed at covering Aratana’s needs at least through the end of 2015, she said.

Aratana started business in 2010 on the idea that veterinarians have few medicines specifically approved for pets’ ailments.

They rely on human medications for 90 percent or more of the compounds prescribed for pets, according to Steven St. Peter, Aratana’s chief executive officer.

And that use is based largely on the word of “key opinion leaders and literature” rather than a formal regulatory review of whether the drugs work on animals, the company told investors ahead of its public stock sale.

The company’s strategy is to license or get options on human drug compounds and develop them into approved pet meds.

Compounds it is working on now deal with pain, for example from osteoarthritis or operations, and stimulation of appetites.

The company had 16 employees at the end of March.

Its shares sold originally to investors for $6 each. Trading closed Tuesday at $8.94, down 59 cents.