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Important Information About Heartworm Disease

Dear Pet Lovers,

There is a developing situation that we want to bring to your attention.  There is a growing shortage of the medicine that we use for treating heartworm disease.  I want to remind all dog owners to be sure that their dogs are current on heartworm preventives such as, Interceptor or Sentinel (or other medications).  Why?  If your pet contracts the disease, it may be difficult to acquire the medicine to treat him.

Here are the details.  The nation’s only heartworm disease medicine, called “Immiticide,” has been out of production in the United States since late 2009.  Heartworm can be fatal and is something you never want your dog to contract. The shortage of the medicine used in treatment makes it especially dangerous for dogs that contract the disease at this time.

Imiticide is distributed by Merial.  Last December, Merial was notified by the sole supplier of Imiticide’s active ingredient that it was stopping production indefinitely.  Merial has no other supplier for this ingredient.  As a result, no Imiticide has been manufactured for several months.  Merial is rationing out supplies to veterinarians who have the most serious cases of heartworm disease.  We are being required to phone Merial to make special requests when we have a dog with heartworm disease.

Here’s what we have done.  We contacted Merial’s supplier on April 15, 2010.  We asked when they plan to be in production again?  A representative told us, “We hope to have it by the end of the year, or even by the end of the summer, but no date has been set.”  Merial is aggressively searching for another supplier, but until one is secured, the supply of Imiticide will continue to dwindle.

What can you do?  The best course of action is prevention.  Keep your dog away from areas where there are mosquitoes and ensure he is on a heartworm preventive.  If your pet is not on a heartworm preventive, contact your veterinarian and ask for advice on how to start a regimen as soon as possible. Feel free to let me know if you have any questions by leaving a comment below.

Dr. Grif Haber is a fifth generation Nashvillian. Dashing he parents’ hopes that he would become a “real doctor,” he earned his veterinary degree at Purdue University in 1972 and established Murphy Road Animal Hospital P.C. in 1977. With a heart for rescue, he founded Love at First Sight! Puppy and Kitten Adoption Center in 1995 that has since placed thousands of abandoned puppies and kittens into loving homes.

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