EPA to meet with spot-on flea/tick product manufacturers

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is meeting next week with manufacturers of spot-on flea and tick control products, three weeks after the agency issued an advisory about the safety of some of those products.

An advisory on the EPA website dated April 16 said the agency has seen a “sharp increase” in the incidence of adverse effects from spot-on pesticides. As a result, the agency is “intensifying its evaluation of whether further restrictions on the use of these products are necessary to better protect pets.” The EPA is also careful to note that “a cause and effect relationship between these products and any individual adverse reaction or incident has not been confirmed.”

Health Canada issued a similar advisory on its website, and said it is coordinating with the EPA to meet with manufacturers and veterinary health professionals. The Canadian agency mentioned that the adverse effects reported ranged from mild skin irritation to seizures and death.

A spokesman for the EPA said there were 44,263 adverse incidents reported in the United States in 2008, up more than 50 percent from 28,895 in 2007. The data is based on products that are registered with the EPA, since the registrants are legally obligated to report any adverse effects resulting from the use of their products.

The original EPA advisory had a list of seven brands that the agency said represented about 80 percent of the adverse incidents reported. But as of press time, the list had been removed and replaced with a note that says the agency is reviewing the “completeness” of the list and will update it when the review is complete.

“EPA is meeting with industry representatives the week of May 4,” said EPA press officer Dale Kemery. “It is too soon to know what action EPA may take. The agency is gathering information, and the May meeting is part of that process.”

Manufacturer response
Several makers of spot-on flea and tick control products responded to the advisory by defending their products.

“Although the EPA has stated that it has noted a ‘sharp increase’ in the number of reported adverse events associated with the use of spot-on flea and tick control products, our records do not indicate that this is the case for FRONTLINE,” said a statement from Frontline–manufacturer Merial. “The number of adverse events reported per volume of sales has remained consistently low since the introduction of FRONTLINE in 1996.”

Merial and Wyeth subsidiary Fort Dodge Animal Health both said they would cooperate with the EPA’s review. Fort Dodge also defended its product, Promeris, and said the product’s recent entry into the market could be a factor in the inquiry.

“Before ProMeris for dogs was released to the market in 2007, it went through extensive clinical testing,” a company news release said. “Because ProMeris is a new product, there may be more questions related to its use, as compared to other available spot-on products that have been on the market for a number of years.”

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