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FDA loosens up to help with shortage of heartworm treatment medication

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The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) announced on December 3, 2013 that it will help out veterinarians and pet owners in need of the medication Immiticide (melarsomine dihydrochloride). The FDA will allow Merial to import a limited amount of the drug into the USA from its European suppliers. There is a small amount of Immiticide being produced here in the USA but not enough to treat all the infected animals.

Even with the addition of imported supplies, it is unlikely that the full need will be met. It is hoped that veterinarians can work out a system to deliver the drug to the dogs in most need. The shortage began in 2011with problems at the facility of the US supplier. That facility will close by the end of 2013, leaving pet owners and veterinarians depending on imported Immiticide until Merial can work out a system for producing the drug here.
According to the FDA, "veterinarians will only be able to obtain Immiticide directly from Merial through a restricted distribution program. They will not be able to purchase the drug through Merial’s distributors for stocking their clinic inventories." The imported medication will also have a different expiration date from the US made drug, so veterinarians will need to be aware of that.

For pet owners, it is important to recognize that Immiticide is used for the treatment of dogs who have a heartworm infection - it is not used as a preventive. Pets should be on a heartworm preventive throughout mosquito season and for at least a month afterwards. For many pets, this means year round prevention.

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