Oklahoma Veterinarians Experiencing Heartworm Medication Shortage

Tuesday, June 19th 2012, 7:47 am
By: Dave Davis

There is some bad news for your pets.  Veterinarians are seeing a shortage in a couple of major heartworm medications in Oklahoma.

That, combined with the warmer weather, is making heartworm cases more and more common. 

The Journal Record reports Oklahoma small animal vets are seeing more heartworm cases this year than in previous years. 

While the warm weather is a factor, it was hot last summer too so the culprit seems to be a couple of major pharmaceutical plants. 

Novartis - the company that makes the heartworm drug Interceptor, and Merial - the makers of Immiticide - both suspended production of their signature heartworm meds for various reasons. 

Dr. Mark Neer, director of the Boren Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital at OSU's Center for Veterinary Health Sciences, says that if your vet has been stocking up on other brands, you shouldn't have a problem getting the treatment your pet needs. 

But if you don't consistently take your pet in for checkups, you may have a problem getting the drugs you need. 

Dogs and cats are both at risk for heartworms.  Heartworms are not as common in cats, but they also can't handle as many heartworms as dogs can. 

Neer says year-round treatment is the best option.   

Late Tuesday, June 21, 2012, Merial released a statement about the situation:

"With the cooperation of FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM), Merial has arranged as a temporary measure to import limited quantities of IMMITICIDE from our European supplier – the approved source of the product for international markets – due to the critical need for the product; however, this product is not FDA approved.

This European IMMITICIDE is only available directly from Merial through a restricted distribution program.

The product will not be available through our distributors nor will it be available for purchase to stock clinic inventory. 

As clinics identify new dogs that require treatment with IMMITICIDE, we ask that they call Merial's Customer Care at 1-888-MERIAL-1 (1-888-637-4251), option 1 to report the case and request product.

Veterinarians will be able to distinguish this imported product by lot numbers that begin with the letters "MR" on the vial containing the freeze-dried cake. Merial requests that veterinarians record the lot numbers for the European IMMITICIDE and, as with any product, report any adverse events.

Veterinarians who have technical questions may contact our Veterinary Technical Solutions team at 1-888-637-4251, Option 3.

For information on heartworms and heartworm disease, visit the American Heartworm Society Website at www.heartwormsociety.org."