Global veterinary medicine company officially opens

The new headquarters for a veterinary medicine company that serves clients worldwide officially opened in Portland on Thursday.

Georgia Wraight, president of global technology solutions for Covetrus, said a $9 million award in 2018 from the Maine Technology Institute helped the company create a modern pharmacy specializing in medicine for pets.

“Although we are a global animal health company with colleagues near and far, Portland is where our heart is,” Wraight said as dozens of employees gathered in the atrium for a ribbon cutting.

The Maine Technology Institute is funded by the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development and works to stimulate the growth of technology companies across the state. It offers loans, grants and other assistance to companies in Maine.

Covetrus, which employs about 300 workers in Portland, has 6,000 employees worldwide, serves 22,000 veterinary clinics and provides help for “a quarter-billion pet parents” and almost “half-a-billion pets,” Wraight said.

In addition to technology that automates the ability to accurately and quickly fill pet prescriptions — the company fills about 56,000 per month — Covetrus offers compounding pharmacy services, said Jennifer O’Grady, a Covetrus vice-president.

Advances in pet pharmaceuticals are especially important for cat owners who have struggled for years to get their cats to swallow medicine, particularly those with a bitter taste, she said.

To address the problem, the company has created a gel that can be applied inside a cat’s ear, a much easier way to administer medicine.

“The veterinary health care industry will continue to grow,” O’Grady said. “Pets are seen as family members. We want our pets to live long and healthy lives.”

gov. Janet Mills described the company’s evolution from a pet accessory business to a veterinary medicine company that was helped by public investment.

She said the 170,000-square-foot building on Mountfort Street on the city’s east side is the largest office building built in Portland in 25 years.

“Covetrus is demonstrating how it is a shining example of how public investments in innovation can and do leverage private funding,” she said. “How it spurs development of important technologies and creates good paying jobs right here in the great state of Maine.”