Okay. So I admit it. I have purchased Frontline from a big box store. It’s cheaper than buying it from my vet and it’s more convenient (I can buy it while grocery shopping). Same box. Same name. What’s the harm?
What I didn’t know was how much danger I was putting my dogs in by purchasing it from someplace other than my vet. Or was I?
When I first saw this story on Truth About Pet Food I was afraid. The opening sentence read “A veterinarian has evidence of counterfeit Frontline flea treatment believed to be responsible for a pets death.” The story goes on to report on that there may have been as many as 17 dog deaths related to this counterfeit Frontline. Scary? Yes! “I could have killed my dogs!” I thought. I immediately posted the story on my Facebook fan page and then shared it on my personal page.
But then, as I was working on this blog post, I came across a post following up on the original story. It expanded upon the original story about counterfeit Frontline by saying that the real issue was regarding “…a Frontline product that is supposed to be sold outside the US (is) being sold inside the US.” In other words, a Frontline product manufactured to be sold in the UK could “be re-packaged and sold to a US petsumer. Merial told me there have been no reports – to their knowledge – of the flea and tick treatment itself being counterfeit; only the packaging.” Since dosage instructions and weight guidelines are measured differently in the United States than in the United Kingdom (i.e., oz./lbs vs. mg/kg), if a pet were to receive the wrong dosage this could be a problem. The EPA has already reported that many adverse reactions to flea and tick medications are due to improper use.
Susan, from Truth About Pet Food, goes on to say “Merial told me Frontline is ‘only sold to practicing veterinarians’. So I asked…’If Frontline is only sold to practicing veterinarians, then how is the product available on so many online sites?’ They responded ‘we don’t have a direct answer on this, we don’t really know how these sites receive the product’. (My thought was – you have to sell it to them; that’s how.)” So why the company line saying consumers should “only buy it from a vet?”
I was further confused when I saw a comment on this post referencing a piece on VIN News Service. (VIN is a news media arm of the Veterinary Information Network, the largest online information service devoted to veterinary medicine.)
Suddenly, the truth got even murkier. It shared stories of veterinarians being solicited by unknown individuals, asking them to sell their stocks of Frontline to them or to order more than they normally order, so they could sell the product to these “vendors’ for a profit. It also included assertions that drug companies knowingly or “unknowingly” divert their stocks of pet meds to other vendors despite having “long-standing policies of selling their products only through licensed veterinarians, even for medications that don’t require a prescription.”
Since the “path of distribution is a tightly held secret” among the big box stores and online vendors, like 1-800-PetMeds, you have to wonder which is the truth and which is the lie? If Frontline is really only safest if purchased from a vet why are pharmaceutical companies failing to control distribution of their product? Or, at the very least, why aren’t they ensuring that anyone who sells their product, other than veterinarians, is stopped immediately?
As a dog owner it is really frustrating to know what to do to keep my pets safe. Do I only purchase from a veterinarian? Or, is it safe to buy online or from a big box store? If pharmaceutical companies really are selling this stuff through other channels (on the gray market) why don’t they just come clean and admit it?
Pet food companies used to be really great at hiding the truth too… until 2007 when pets started dying across the country. Owners suddenly became much more educated about their pet’s food and a LOT more cautious about which food they fed their beloved pets. Organic, corn-free, wheat-free, all natural – these are the labels we see now, and for those pet food companies who choose to use these labels to try and deceive the public about their ingredients or processing operations, lawsuits are becoming the norm.
So what’s it going to take for pharmaceutical companies to come clean too? Another incident like 2007? God help us and our pets. I certainly hope not.
Welcome to the Saturday Pet Blogger Blog Hop. I encourage you to check out some of the other awesome bloggers out there. Much thanks to our most generous and interesting hosts, Life With Dogs, Two Little Cavaliers, and Confessions of the Plume!
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