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Caution Urged in Use of Flea, Tick Products for Pets

Environmental Protection Agency Reacts to Reports of Health Problems in Pets

Manufacturers' Reaction

WebMD asked each manufacturer to comment on the EPA action. All of those who responded expressed a willingness to work with the EPA to continue to make these products safer.

Mark Newberg, director of corporate affairs for Central Life Sciences, noted that the vast majority of people who use his firm's and other firms' products have no problem at all.

"If you look at the fact that 270 million doses of product [from all companies] were sold, and a rate of 16 incidents per 10,000, it means you have millions of dogs and cats protected from flea allergy dermatitis, tapeworm, and other diseases," Newberg tells WebMD. "These are satisfied customers. But on occasion there are adverse incidents we can't predict."

Bob Walker, director of communications and public policy for Bayer Animal Health, noted that of the 16 incidents per 10,000 doses, few were serious.

"We have done a thorough analysis of our own incident reporting, and Bayer did not see an increase for Advantage over the period cited by the EPA," Walker tells WebMD. "And our rate of adverse incidents is lower than the aggregate rate reported by the EPA."

In a statement provided to WebMD, Hartz Mountain expressed a willingness to work with the EPA on making labeling clearer.

"While Hartz is the leader in flea and tick retail sales, Hartz flea and tick drops account for less than five percent of all adverse effects reported to the EPA in 2008 for topical dog and cat flea and tick treatment," the statement says.

Merial also provided a statement to WebMD.

"Although EPA has said that its initiative was prompted by a 'sharp increase' it had noted in 2007-2008 in the number of reported adverse events related to the use of spot-on flea and tick control products in general, Merial's data does not indicate that this is the case for Frontline. The number of adverse events reported for Frontline has remained consistently low since the product's introduction in 1996," the statement says.

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