Heartworm Treatment Medication In Short Supply

Editor’s Note:  As of December, 2011, Immiticide was again available through Merial’s European source.

If you ever needed another reason to keep your dog on heartworm preventive, here it is.

The only federally-approved heartworm treatment medication marketed in the United States is in very short supply.

The name of the medication is Immiticide and it is manufactured by Merial Limited.

There were problems with short supply of the active ingredient, melarsomine, that led to rationing of Immiticide for approximately a year. Merial has said that there were unforeseen technical difficulties in a planned manufacturing site transfer, and that the problems were in the area of regulatory requirements, but declined to explain further.

Now, that supply has been exhausted and Merial is making Immiticide from ingredient obtained from Europe under a short-term agreement with the Federal Food and Drug Administration.

What does that mean for you, as a pet owner?

First, it means that you want to be more sure than ever that your pet has his heartworm preventive administered correctly every month.

Second, it means that if your pet does become infected with heartworms there may be a delay in beginning treatment.

For approximately a year we have been required to justify every Immiticide purchase in order that every dog in need of heartworm treatment could have his medicine.

No longer may Immiticide be purchased from veterinary drug distributors, but is available only directly from Merial. Veterinary practitioners must speak directly with a Merial technical services veterinarian in order to obtain the product.

One thing has not changed: every case of heartworm disease is treated individually, so if your pet should become heartworm-infested your pet’s doctor will guide you through the process to achieve a cure, if possible.  The vast majority of canine heartworm disease cases are successfully treated.

See you tomorrow, Dr. Randolph.

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