Makers of spot-on products summoned for EPA meeting

Oregon State University is taking adverse reaction reports from veterinarians

Published: April 24, 2009
By Jennifer Fiala

Companies that make and sell spot-on flea and tick killers and preventatives for pets will gather in early May for a meeting with the Environmental Protection Agency at its Washington, D.C. offices. 

The topic: evaluating the safety of spot-on products in response to a recent spike in adverse events reported to the regulatory agency. 

EPA officials revealed last week that they're considering imposing further restrictions on spot-on products to better protect pets. Last year, more than 44,000 potential adverse reactions were reported to EPA, ranging from skin irritations to seizures and, in some cases, death. 

"We have a variety of scientists at EPA, anywhere from epidemiologists and veterinarians to biologists and toxicologists looking into this, and the scientific team is putting together their assessment for potential risks,"
EPA spokesman Doug Parsons says. "We have a variety of regulatory approaches that we can take that include everything from minor changes to the label to reformulation, even cancelation." 

In the wake of EPA's news, Merial and Hartz Mountain Corp., both makers of topical flea and tick control products for dogs and cats, have distributed "Dear Doctor" letters to veterinarians across the United States, reiterating their products' safety claims. Both companies note that adverse events involving their spot-on products are rare.

EPA officials want veterinarians to encourage clients to read the labels of spot-on products and use them as directed. A system now is in place for DVMs to report adverse events that might be linked to spot-on products. The National Pesticide Information Center, based at Oregon State University, can be reached at or (800) 858-7378 seven days a week from 9:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. EST. 

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