Promeris Flea and Tick Control – Dangerous, but Still for Sale

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A newsgroup post gave me a heads up that Pfizer has suspended production of Promeris, their popular flea and tick preventative. Promeris has also been marketed as a treatment for Demodectic mange (demodex).

As announced in an article on Veterinary Practice News, a recent study has linked Promeris with Pemphigus foliaceus (PF), a serious autoimmune disease characterized by lesions on the skin, nose and ears.

From an article on the Akita Club of America website, I learned that “The mortality rate for dogs affected with Pemphigus Foliaceus dogs is still high” (Gomez, S., D.O. Morris, M. Rosenbaum, and M Goldschmidt, Outcome and complications associated with treatment of pemphigus foliaceus in dogs: 43 cases (1994-2000), J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2004 Apr 15;224(8):1312-6).

Even in non fatal cases, PF is a particularly disfiguring disease, painful to the affected dogs and distressing to their owners. A possible symptom includes the dog’s entire paw pads sloughing off altogether.

What I find most distressing about this entire situation is Pfizer’s response to it.  Instead of a recall, Pfizer is going to continue to make Promeris available “while supplies last or until mid-September.” Coincidentally, this just happens to cover almost the entire 2011 flea and tick season. The Promeris website is still up and active, with no news about the possible side effects listed that I could find. In fact, the Promeris website still encourages you to download a coupon entitling you to a free month of Promeris.

Pfizer is passing the buck to Fort Dodge, original manufacturers of Promeris, who they acquired as part of  Wyeth/Fort Dodge Animal Health acquisition. The Pfizer press release on the Promeris ‘non recall’ is a masterful piece of corporate baffle speak -

“We have completed a thorough review and evaluation of the strategic fit into the Pfizer Animal Health portfolio, and have made the decision to discontinue the manufacture and sale of Promeris flea and tick control for dogs and cats.

“We notified our current customers of this decision in early April and will continue to fill their orders until Sept. 20, 2011, or while supplies last. We look forward to continuing to meet the needs of our customers with our evolving parasiticide portfolio.”

Apparently, having the feet of your customer’s dog slough off like rotted meat is an acceptable part of the Pfizer Animal Health Portfolio. Comforting to investors, but perhaps not so much for the pet owner who experiences it first hand.

Most us find that our dogs having feet, a face and a life “meets our needs” an awful lot better.

Read the rest in the Veterinary Practice News article.