EPA Increases Scrutiny of Flea and Tick Control Products for Pets

Due to a recent sharp increase in the number of incidents being reported from the use of spot-on pesticide products for flea and tick control for pets, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is intensifying its evaluation of whether further restrictions on the use of these products are necessary to better protect pets.

Incidents with flea and tick products can involve the use of spot-on treatments, sprays, collars and shampoos. However, the majority of the potential incidents reported to EPA are related to flea and tick treatments with EPA-registered spot-on products. Spot-on products are generally sold in tubes or vials and are applied to one or more localized areas on the body of the pet, such as in between the shoulders or in a stripe along the back.

EPA-registered spot-on, topically applied flea and tick products have an EPA Registration Number on the label (look for EPA Reg. No. XXX-XX).

Incident report summary

Adverse reactions reported from the spot-on products range from mild effects such as skin irritation to more serious effects such as seizures and in some cases death. Over 44,000 potential incidents associated with registered spot-on products were reported to EPA in 2008. Pesticide registrants are required by law to submit information to EPA on adverse effects resulting from the use of any registered pesticide. The seven products in the table below represent about 80% of that total.

In reviewing the list of seven products, please note the following:

  • This information is subject to revision as new information becomes available;
  • This information does not account for the market share of these products;
  • This information does not reflect the severity of incidents;
  • This information does not reflect potential misuse of the products; and
  • If incidents are not reported by pet owners or registrants, this may affect the potential accuracy of this list.

In addition, a cause and effect relationship between these products and any individual adverse reaction or incident has not been confirmed. EPA is carefully evaluating all available data, including incident data, to help identify and if necessary, take prompt regulatory action to address risks. By collecting, compiling, and reviewing the incident data, EPA is able to make better decisions to reduce risks and target other regulatory activities.

EPA #

  
80490-2Promeris Spot On for Dogs
Promeris for Dogs
65331-5Frontline Plus for Dogs
65331-4Frontline Plus for Cats
2724-504RF2004(CCSO)
Zodiac Spot On Flea & Tick Control for Cats 5 lbs and over
Zodiac Spot On Flea & Tick Control for Cats & Kittens Under 5 lbs
2724-497RF9908 Spot On
Zodiac Groomers’ Spot On Pack
Zodiac Spot On Flea & Tick Control for Small Dogs 16–30 lbs
Zodiac Spot On Flea & Tick Control for Medium Dogs 31-60 lbs
Zodiac Spot On Flea & Tick Control for Large Dogs Over 60 lbs
Zodiac Spot On Flea & Tick Control for Puppies, Toys & Miniatures under 15 lbs
2517-85Sergeant’s Cyphenothrin Squeeze-on for Dogs
Sergeant’s Silver Flea and Tick Squeeze-on for Dogs
Sentry XFC Flea and Tick Squeeze-on for Dogs
Sentry XFC Squeeze-on for Dogs
Sergeant’s Silver Squeeze-on for Dogs
2517-80

Sergeant’s Cyphenothrin + IGR Squeeze-on for Dogs
Sergeant’s Gold Squeeze-on for Dogs
Sergeant’s Gold Flea and Tick Squeeze-on for Dogs
Sentrypro XFC Flea and Tick Squeeze-on for Dogs
Sentrypro XFC Squeeze-on for Dogs
Sentrypro XFC Flea and Tick Squeeze-on for Dogs Extreme Flea Contro

Veterinary News Network provides the following response to the EPA information:

  • It must be stressed that there has been no confirmation that the named products definitively caused the adverse events. If a product was in use during any adverse reaction by a pet, it must be reported whether or not the product caused the reaction.
  • Likewise, the numbers reported do not reflect the severity of reactions nor do they reflect any potential misuse by the owners. All reactions are treated the same; there is no difference between a mild skin irritation and a much more serious reaction, as far as the report is concerned.
  • Companies who make these products are required by law to submit information about adverse events to the EPA. However, the companies can choose which events to report.
  • Most companies report every adverse reaction that consumers or veterinarians report to them, no matter how small. It is unknown whether all pharmaceutical companies adhere to this same level of diligence.
  • Two popular veterinary use flea and tick control products, Frontline® and ProMeris®, were listed among the seven products named in the EPA announcement.
  • Adverse events reported with these insecticides are rare and most often minor. Manufacturers are extraordinarily diligent in reporting every adverse reaction reported. Dr. Hal Little, Merial's Director of Field Veterinary Services stated that their records do not indicate any increase in adverse events associated with Frontline®.
  • Since the EPA has not released their methods of compiling the data and a product’s market share is not taken into account, it is difficult to ascertain whether the EPA’s numbers signify a true increase in reported adverse reactions.
  • Pet owners and consumers should note that the release of EPA registration numbers in this notice does not mean the products are being recalled. These are not lot numbers as one might see in a recall, but rather simply signify EPA codes for manufacturers.
  • Since several topical flea and tick treatments have been used for decades, veterinarians and pet owners should feel safe and comfortable using these products.  As with any pesticide or medication, you should follow label instructions and/or your veterinarian’s directions when using the product.
  • If you have applied any flea or tick medication to your pet and you feel that your pet is having any sort of reaction, contact your veterinarian for advice. Most commonly, pet owners might see minor skin irritation, transient lethargy, or vomiting.

Published: April 16, 2009;    Updated: October 15, 2009

Filed Under: Medical, Recalls Warnings

Author: Oregon Veterinary Medical Association

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