Heartworm treatment not available

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Immiticide, the only heartworm adulticide on the U.S. market, was temporarily unavailable as of early August. In response, the American Heartworm Society released an alternative management plan for heartworm disease.

The company that manufactures Immiticide for Merial reported technical issues that are expected to interrupt the supply of the heartworm treatment for several weeks to months, according to an Aug. 4 "dear doctor" letter from Merial. Merial depleted its remaining inventory of Immiticide within days of the letter, a spokeswoman confirmed.

According to the letter, "there is a possibility that an alternate source of supply may be identified."

On Aug. 9, the American Heartworm Society released a plan for managing heartworm disease in dogs while Immiticide is unavailable.

The guidance advises that, lacking a heartworm adulticide, veterinarians should manage heartworm disease in dogs to achieve three primary goals:

  • Reduce the potential for development of pathologic abnormalities associated with heartworm infection.
  • Maintain the health of the dog until it can be appropriately treated.
  • Prevent additional heartworm infection.

The guidance advises the following steps:

  • Limit activity level of the dog to reduce development of pathologic abnormalities.
  • Carefully start the dog on heartworm preventive.
  • Administer doxycycline to reduce the infective potential of heartworms.

The complete management plan is available at www.heartwormsociety.org.

According to the "dear doctor" letter, Merial will continue reporting on changes in the supply of Immiticide.