Friday, August 19, 2011

Vets worried about shortage of heartworm medicine for dogs

The company that sells the only FDA approved medicine to treat adult heartworm in dogs has announced its manufacturer has halted production leaving veterinarians with few boxes on the shelves and concerns about what to do if they see multiple cases.

Earlier this month, Merial, a veterinary product company, said it is nearly out of the heartworm medication Immiticide and is urging veterinarians to only place orders for the most severe cases.

Most vets have only a few treatments of the drug stockpiled and worry about what they will do if they see multiple cases.

Although vets are concerned, they say Colorado receives fewer cases of mosquito-borne heartworms than many other states and most see only a few cases a year.

"So it's a concern at this point but it's not an emergency so it's not something people should be panicking about and it's something that hopefully won't be a problem at all," Urban Vet Care Veterinarian Dr. Naomi Weber said.

There are alternative treatments to Immiticide, including antibiotics and surgery but those options can be more costly for owners and more dangerous for a dog's health.

Veterinarians urge preventative care and medicines and because of the lack of symptoms associated with heartworms they recommend people have their dogs tested at least once a year.

Merial has not given an exact date on when it may get a new manufacturer to make the drug, but it says it could be at least several weeks before restrictions on orders are lifted.


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