Charity Magazine

Shortage of Drug Used to Treat Heartworm Disease

By Thesheltershack @sheltershack
Shortage of Drug Used to Treat Heartworm Disease

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Heartworm Disease is transmitted to dogs and cats by mosquitoes. It’s a very treatable medical condition. That is…as long as the drug used to treat it is available in the marketplace. It seems Immiticide, the only FDA approved drug used to treat the disease, is in short supply.

Merial, the only manufacturer of Immiticide in the US, is temporarily not making it because of technical difficulties in manufacturing. Merial informed vets nationwide in early August about the shortage. No word as to when it will be back in production.

The FDA recently announced that they will allow Merial to import limited quantities of Immiticide from their European supplier, which is the approved source of the product for international markets. The approval is temporary while Merial works out technical issues in the plant.

The European supplier has a limited amount of Immiticide available for importation – a quantity that will only satisfy a small percentage of U.S. demand. As a result, veterinarians are being asked to conserve this limited supply by using it only for dogs in most urgent need of treatment.

In the meantime, the American Heartworm Society has posted an alternate treatment method for heartworm positive dogs. This method is not a fast one as it could take up to 16 months to kill off the adult heartworms in this fashion. One can only hope that Immiticide will be back in the marketplace long before that.

It also requires owners to comply with a rigorous schedule of administering different drugs: heartworm preventative once a month, along with Doxycycline daily for 1 month and then 2 months off and then start that cycle all over again. There are even other drugs the dog will need if the dog also has immature heartworms in their system called microfilaria.

Oh and one more thing, your dog has to be kept inactive during the entire treatment process. That means no playing or running around. You take the dog outside on a leash for potty breaks, and while inside the dog should remain in a relaxed and calm state. If your dog likes to dart through the house, then you should be prepared to crate him even when you’re home.

Countless dogs show up in the shelter system with this disease. Dogs in shelters don’t have the luxury of being treated for 16 months. If a shelter is hurting for space and there aren’t any available foster homes, or people willing to adopt a heartworm positive dog, then these dogs will be first up on the euthanasia list. Oh, and while cats seem to be somewhat immune to the disease, they can get it, and there is no approved treatment option for them.

Shortage of Drug Used to Treat Heartworm Disease
This is so sad on many levels. The worst part of it all is that this disease is very preventable. All you have to do is give your pet a monthly preventative tablet like Interceptor. Most pets view it as a treat and chew them up readily. So dear readers, if you don’t already have your pet on preventative, call up your vet and get them started on it today! It’s much cheaper to prevent the disease than it is to treat it.

There is a video news story on this topic, but for some reason I can’t get it to embed into this post. If you would like to view it, please click here: Euthanizations Due to Heartworm Medicine Shortage.

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