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Veterinary Forum May 2009 (Vol 26, No 5)

EPA to evaluate spot-on products

by Paul Basilio

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — Canadian and US officials said that they will intensify their evaluation of spot-on flea and tick control products purchased outside veterinary channels because of an increase in reports of adverse events.

    "It is not known whether the [alleged] problems are inherent in the products themselves or because of misuse on the part of consumers. For example, there are reports that products registered for use on dogs have been used on cats," said Dale Kemery, spokesperson for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which will conduct the evaluation of products available in the United States.

    Kemery explained that the investigation was triggered after the agency received more than 44,000 reports of adverse incidents about the products in 2008, an increase of almost 20,000 reports from 2007.

    The EPA will meet with Health Canada, the Canadian agency that identified similar concerns about the use of these products, as well as with product manufacturers, beginning the week of May 4, Kemery told Veterinary Forum.

    An important message in the EPA report is that spot-on flea and tick treatments are considered safe and effective when administered appropriately, reminds Lawrence D. McGill, DVM, PhD, DACVP, technical vice president at ARUP Laboratories in Salt Lake City, Utah.

    Veterinarians might consider taking a few minutes to educate owners about proper application and to remind them that spot-on products intended for dogs should not be used on cats, according to McGill, a member of the Forum Editorial Board.

    "There is definite concern that owners may be misusing these products," McGill said.

    The potential risk associated with these products is still minor compared with the benefit, McGill added. "These products are helpful, but they need to be used appropriately. Owners should not add other products or let the treated areas get wet."

    Client education can play a large part in the safety and efficacy of flea and tick spot-on products, said Richard B. Ford, DVM, MS, DACVIM, DACVPM (Hon), emeritus professor of medicine at North Carolina State University. "I think we assume that once they are educated, clients will be able to properly administer and store a product, but my experience suggests that mistakes and misuse still occur.

    "Imagine the misuse of these products when an owner obtains them through an over-the-counter source. There is no education provided at all," emphasized Ford, who also is a member of the Forum Editorial Board.

    Some products used to control external pests are intended to act systemically and, therefore, are not regulated as pesticides by the EPA but as drugs by the FDA.

    The EPA recommends that veterinarians report any incidents to the National Pesticide Information Center's Veterinary Pesticide Adverse Reporting portal found at npic.orst.edu/vet.

    NEXT: Editor's Note — Lost her way

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