Shortage of heartworm medication for dogs - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Shortage of heartworm medication for dogs

MARION, IL (KFVS) -Dog owners beware there is a real shortage of the heartworm medication called Immiticide.

"It's the only approved drug for treating and eliminating adult heartworms," said James Parker, DVM at Little Egypt Veterinary Clinic in Marion.

There is only one company in the nation that is approved by the FDA to make Immiticide, and that company is called Merial, a subsidiary of the Sanofi company.

"We've been able to get it on a very limited basis for awhile. But as of the last week or two we haven't been able to get any of the medication. The company says there is no more. And they're not giving us any timeline as to when they're going to start making anymore," said Parker.

The news was not what the Justice family in Du Quoin, wanted to hear when they took their rescue dog named Charlee, to see their veterinarian.

"The doctor told us she has got heartworms and he can't treat her for them because he can't get any of the medicine," said Kellee Justice.

"I also called the University of Missouri's Veterinary School and spoke with a vet up there, and she told me it was a nationwide problem."

The Justice's are having a hard time accepting that there is only one company that makes the one drug that could help save their dogs life.

"I was incredulous, I thought we live in the United States, and one company produces this drug that treats heartworms," said Justice.

"One company and one drug in the entire United States?"

But, that is exactly the case and now some veterinarians are going to have to choose which dogs they can treat and which ones they can not.

"The treatment protocol calls for two treatment phases about thirty days apart," said Parker.

"So we can have situations where dogs may have completed the first phase, but we may not be able to complete the second phase because the drug is no longer available."

Which is why Doctor Parker recommends that all dog owners keep their pets on some form or preventative medication if they are not already infected with heartworms.

"All it takes is one mosquito bite to infect your pet. And all dogs need to be on some preventive medicine so we don't have to worry about treating them. And the Immiticide is not available at this time. It is the only drug we've got that will actually kill and clear out the adult heartworms if they're present," said Parker.

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