New Restrictions on Flea and Tick Products Announced

In response to an increase in adverse reactions, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is attempting to increase the safety of spot-on pesticide products for flea and tick control for cats and dogs.

While they are used safely and effectively by the vast majority of pet owners, adverse reactions to spot-on flea and tick products in cats and dogs has long concerned consumers, with some pets suffering from skin irritation, gastrointestinal problems and even nervous system disorders. The EPA has determined that smaller dogs tend to be disproportionately affected by some products and that the exposure of cats to some dog products is "a concern".

"EPA is committed to better protecting the health and safety of pets and families in all communities across our nation," said Steve Owens, assistant administrator of EPA’s Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances. "New restrictions will be placed on these products, and pet owners need to carefully read and follow all labeling before exposing your pet to a pesticide."

The EPA began an extensive evaluation of these products after an increase in incident reports in 2008. In the short-term, the EPA will be reviewing flea and tick products’ labels to determine if they need to have clearer labeling statements in an effort to reduce misuse and ensure that the correct dosage is given per weight. The new rules are likely to require that cat and dog products are more clearly differentiated, and that cat and dog products do not share similar brand names. The EPA will also launch a new consumer information campaign to explain the new labeling.

And in the long-term, the EPA will develop "more stringent testing and evaluation requirements for both existing and new products". This will mean that when a product is approved for use, the approval will be time-limited to allow for post-marketing product surveillance. The EPA will also restrict the use of some inert ingredients that are found to contribute to the adverse incidents reported. In addition, the EPA will require more comprehensive sales figures so as to be able to evaluate the percentage of doses that result in incident reports.

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