The only heartworm adulticide approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in canines is temporarily unavailable, with no known re-release date. It’s the first time since Immiticide (melarsomine dihydrochloride) hit the U.S. market in 1996
that veterinarians can no longer buy the drug.
News of the Immiticide shortage surfaced last week with an open letter to practitioners from drugmaker Merial that warns of an outage expected to “last several weeks to months.” The letter, dated Aug. 4, asked practitioners to help conserve Merial's dwindling Immiticide supplies by ordering product only to treat does with severe heartworm infestation. However, the notice of the shortage caused a run on remaining stock. The company's technical services department confirmed today that Merial is "officially out" of the drug.
“After mailing the Dear Doctor letter we experienced an unprecedented surge in Immiticide orders and depleted inventory much more rapidly than anticipated,” explains Natasha Mahanes, a Merial spokeswoman.
Immiticide availability has been shaky since early last year
, when Merial, the animal health arm of Sanofi, reported that its U.S. supplier could no longer obtain the product’s active ingredient, and the FDA was hesitant to allow Merial’s plant in Brussels to fill American orders. As a result, Merial stopped allowing veterinarians to simply order and stock the drug in an effort to conserve U.S. supplies and implemented a “restricted distribution program.” Translation: Veterinarians treating only severe cases of heartworm disease could access the drug on a case-by-case basis with approval from the company.
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