Donaghys Scorpius Elite

A new era in parasite control for sheep 

As a company, Donaghys pride themselves on bringing innovative solutions to the market to make life easier for farmers, while maintaining farmers’ production. Examples of this are N-boost and Grunt (Glyphosate 600), where challenges faced by farmers in the field, such as the pressure on nitrogen and glyphosate use, saw Donaghys bring these new products to the market. Donaghys have also looked to bring similar levels of innovation to complement its broad range of anthelmintics. The next step in this process is the launch of Scorpius Elite Spot-On for sheep.
The story began in 2010 when Donaghys Managing Director, Jeremy Silva, was discussing drenching lambs with a farming friend one Saturday morning at a netball game. Jeremy’s friend described that drenching lambs was a significant investment in time and labour on his farm. He had worked out that drenching lambs orally for him was the equivalent of one extra labour unit over summer and made the comment that there had to be a better way to protect his lambs from parasites. After discussions with Donaghys’ formulation scientists on what was achievable and other farmers facing similar issues, the development project for Scorpius Elite began.
The brief was simple. Farmers wanted an easy and effective way to treat their lambs for internal parasites, while reducing the chances of developing drench resistance. This meant that, unlike attempts in the past with topical formulations for sheep, Scorpius Elite needed to be a combination product. For application, a skin-level spot-on method was chosen, as thick layers of wool could form a barrier preventing absorption of the active ingredients. Between the shoulder blades was the ideal place for application as it was easily accessible in standing sheep and picking one spot ensured consistency of application. Scorpius Elite uses a normal oral drench gun nozzle to penetrate the wool so no new equipment is needed for use.
Using their experience from combination cattle pour-ons, Donaghys selected the actives eprinomectin and levamisole. Eprinomectin is a potent macrocyclic lactone from the same family as ivermectin and abamectin. It has been extensively researched and has been described in published papers as “the most potent macrocyclic lactone identified to date” (Shoop 1996). Eprinomectin can be found in a number of pour-ons, injections and oral drenches for cattle, with much of the early published trial work using sheep to demonstrate its efficacy. Despite this early work, eprinomectin has not been used before with sheep in New Zealand. Levamisole is a member of the imidazothiazole class of anthelmintics and has been used widely in sheep and cattle in New Zealand in oral, injectable, and pour-on formulations for over 40 years.
Obviously the wool covered skin of sheep provided unique challenges to Donaghys scientists compared to cattle skin. With this in mind, several different formulations containing eprinomectin and levamisole were tested, using a wide variety of different excipients. The mix of excipients was designed to facilitate both actives penetrating the skin of the sheep, while not harming the skin or wool and keeping the active ingredients stable to maintain an acceptable shelf life.
After this extensive testing in the lab, the final formulation was selected and patented, then tested in the field. Initially, what Donaghys were looking for was a spot-on formulation that was just as effective as an oral formulation. Scorpius Elite however, performed even better than expected. 

In a study conducted in the Hawke’s Bay, on a farm with a variety of parasite species with severe levamisole resistance, Scorpius Elite had 100 percent efficacy. This efficacy wasn’t just due to the addition of eprinomectin to the formulation but due to the fact that levamisole was being applied as a spot-on rather than an oral. This was demonstrated by also testing a Scorpius Elite formulation with just the levamisole active in it which was far superior to the oral equivalent.
In another study, Scorpius Elite was tested against Teladorsagia spp. which were resistant to both Switch HiMin®, an abamectin and levamisole combination oral and Matrix®, a triple combination oral. While the other two drenches struggled at 70 percent and 87 percent efficacy respectively, Scorpius Elite was 99.5 percent effective. This really was a phenomenal result and shows that Scorpius Elite is easy to use and has unrivalled efficacy for a combination product containing a macrocyclic lactone and levamisole. 
Scorpius Elite was also tested in a variety of wool lengths in crossbred sheep, demonstrating excellent efficacy and can be used from 2 weeks after shearing. This trial work resulted in Scorpius Elite having a broad claim structure against all the major production limiting gastrointestinal parasites in sheep in New Zealand. In all these studies the product was shown to be safe and did not damage the fleece or skin of the sheep. Scorpius Elite has a short 16-day meat withhold, giving farmers flexibility and making it an ideal product for use in young, rapidly growing lambs, being regularly drafted for slaughter. 
Scorpius Elite is used at a dose rate of 1ml/2.5kg body weight. This equates to 10ml per 25kg lamb and these dose volumes were well tolerated in the registration trials. Scorpius Elite comes in a 10 litre container and can be used with any oral or pour-on drench gun.
Donaghys are very excited to bring Scorpius Elite to the market but their search for further innovation has not stopped. Donaghys are testing further variations of the Scorpius Elite formulation and are looking at utilising this formulation in other anthelmintics in sheep and cattle and in formulations for mineral supplementation. Scorpius Elite really marks a coming of age for Donaghys as a company in the animal health space, just as it has heralded a new era in the control of gastrointestinal parasites.
Matrix Hi-Mineral® Registered pursuant to the ACVM Act 1997 No. A009390
Switch Hi-Mineral® Registered pursuant to the ACVM Act 1997 No. A009970
Scorpius Elite Spot-on® Registered pursuant to the ACVM Act 1997 No A011728 
Shoop, L et al. (1996). "Efficacy in Sheep and Pharmacokinetics in Cattle that Led to the Selection of Eprinomectin as a Topical Endectocide for Cattle". Internal Journal for Parasitology 26.11, pp. 1227-1235.