In a move that will apparently remove most generic competitors of the popular Frontline Plus flea and tick repellent from the market, Sergeant’s Pet Care Products Inc. of Omaha, Neb., plans to voluntarily pull several of its products, citing patent infringement.
Sergeant’s is initiating a return and exchange of five products that contain both fipronil and methoprene:
- FiproGuard Plus
- Pronyl OTC Plus
- Spectra Sure
Sergeant’s has not yet disclosed specifics of how to return or exchange products.
The company’s fipronil-based generics not containing methoprene will remain on the market. Methoprene is designed to help prevent reinfestation of the pet by killing pests at the egg and larva stages, not just the adult fleas and ticks that fipronil kills.
The action follows a continuing legal battle between Merial, maker of Frontline Plus, and Cipla Ltd. and Velcera Inc. regarding patent claims surrounding their fipronil and methoprene flea-and-tick control products.
In June, a U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia ruled that sales of PetArmor Plus manufactured by Cipla and Velcera infringed on Merial’s patents covering its flea-and-tick product FrontlinePlus. Cipla and Velcera officials say they will appeal the verdict and an order to remove the products from the market was stayed 60 days pending the appeal.
Sergeant’s launched Fiproguard Plus and Pronyl OTC Plus in March, along with Fiproguard and Pronyl OTC. In January, Sergeant’s had announced an agreement with Japan’s Sumitomo Chemical Co. Ltd. for the licensing of Sumitomo’s patent in association with the development, manufacture and sale of a composition combining fipronil with an insect growth regulator to eliminate and prevent pests on dogs and cats.
Meanwhile, Merial recently launched its newest flea and tick product for dogs.
Certifect essentially combines Frontline Plus with a small amount of amitraz, another pesticide effective against ticks, that results in a faster killing of ticks (begins within 6 hours and can kills all ticks within 18 hours, according to Merial) and, unlike other pesticides, the detachment of the ticks before they die. Both the quicker kill and the detachment help prevent the spread of disease to dogs from the ticks, according to Mike Murray, DVM, technical marketing director for Merial. Apparently the combination of amitraz and fipronil have a synergistic effect that makes the compound more effective than either compound alone, Dr. Murray said.
He said that Certifect is not designed to replace Frontline Plus in the marketplace and emphasized that flea and tick control is really more about disease control, than pest control, and that pet owners should consult their veterinarian for the proper product for their situation (including an assessment of existing tick risks).
Also, because Amitraz is a monamine oxidase inhibitor, people taking MAOI-containing medications (including certain antidepressants that can also be used to treat Parkinson’s and social anxiety and prevent migraines) should be especially cautious when handling the product.
Certifect will be more expensive than Frontline Plus and is not for use of cats, although safety studies in Europe did not indicate adverse effects on cats in homes with treated dogs.