This blog is a tribute to Belle, and all the dogs who have come before and after. They are my friends, my companions, my teachers and my students. They bring me both joy and heartache, laughter and tears. There is nothing as sweet as the smell of puppy breathe, and nothing as sad as the final goodbye.

Friday, April 19, 2024

The Mars Candy Company. Copied and pasted from the Terrierman's FaceBook post


The Mars candy and food company is the largest owner of veterinary services in the U.S.
Mars secured this position in 2017 when they bought VCA, the second largest veterinary health service provider in the U.S., for $9.1 billion.
From the 2017 press release:
“Mars, Incorporated and VCA Inc. (NASDAQ: WOOF) today announced that they have entered an agreement under which Mars will acquire all of the outstanding shares of VCA for $93 per share, or a total value of approximately $9.1 billion including $1.4 billion in outstanding debt. The transaction price represents a premium of approximately 41 percent over VCA's 30-day volume weighted average price on January 6, 2017, and a premium of approximately 31 percent over VCA's closing price on January 6, 2017. The agreement has been unanimously approved by the boards of directors of both companies.
“VCA joins Mars Petcare, one of the world's leading pet care providers. Pet care has been an important part of Mars for over 80 years. The transaction reaffirms Mars' commitment to the pet care industry and the veterinary profession, and once completed will help drive Mars Petcare's purpose to create A Better World for Pets. Mars Petcare's portfolio of Veterinary Services businesses includes BANFIELD® Pet Hospital, BLUEPEARL® and PET PARTNERS™. Together with VCA, these businesses will provide an unprecedented level of access to high quality veterinary care for pets, from wellness and prevention to primary, emergency and specialty care. Mars Petcare is already an industry leader in pet nutrition with global brands that include ROYAL CANIN®, PEDIGREE® and WHISKAS®. Mars has a growing business in pet DNA testing through the WISDOM PANEL®, and in 2015 also acquired pet technology provider WHISTLE.”
What's this mean for pet care? Consolidation in the health care arena always means more pressure to engage in fraud through upcoding, price-gouging, bill-padding, and medically unnecessary goods and services. The patient (human, canine, or feline), takes a back seat to the bottom line, and procedure manuals are written to maximize revenue by cutting actual services while increasing the costs and number of billed activities.
The pressure of Wall Street (NASDAQ: WOOF) will drive up prices across the veterinary sphere, while also lowering the confidence people will have about the quality of care and information they are getting from their own veterinarians.
The parallel here is with human health care, where the rise of industrialized medicine driven by doctor kickbacks, off-label marketing, bill-padding, upcoding, and price-gouging is king. The difference; unlike in human health care, there are no federal rules prohibiting such activity for dogs and cats, and because the damages are small (because dogs and cats are simple property), there will be almost no legal representation for consumers given the hind leg.

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