If your dog has a prescription for Interceptor or Sentinel, you may already be aware of a shortage of these products. In fact, many veterinarians and dog owners have been frustrated by their inability to obtain the popular heartworm preventatives. Due to a problem with human drugs made at its Nebraska plant, Novartis has shut down the plant until quality can be assured. Unfortunately, this plant also produces animal drugs including Sentinel and Interceptor. For a time, Novartis suspended shipments of all drugs produced at this plant. However, in February 2012, the company again began shipping Sentinel and Interceptor from warehouses. They have not, however, begun producing more of these products. Novartis hopes to be able to begin production soon and vows that animal health is a priority. The current shipment will alleviate some of the problems caused by the shortage, but if the plant does not begin producing these drugs again soon, veterinarians and dog owners will have to think about alternative products.
What Caused the Shutdown?
The shutdown was caused by a number of problems. According to healthfinder.gov, the main problem was the mixing of pills from different production lines. This caused different types of pills to be mixed in the same bottles. This error could potentially lead to patients taking the wrong medication, though there have not been any reported issues of this occurring. Further, there were consumer complaints of chipped and broken tablets.
Are the Medications Safe?
According to Novartis, none of the veterinary products made in the Nebraska plant have been recalled. Sentinel and Interceptor were packaged on dedicated lines, away from the problem areas. Further these drugs are packed in individual blister packs rather than bottles, making contamination with other medications highly unlikely. Novartis made the decision to ship the drugs in close consultation with the FDA, and there have been no reported problems with the medications. This means that Sentinel and Interceptor should be safe for your dog.
When Will Production Resume?
Novartis hopes to begin production again soon, but there is currently no scheduled date for the plantâ€™s reopening. The company and the FDA must be satisfied that safety and quality standards at the plant are acceptable before it can resume drug production. In a Feb. 2, 2012 press release, Novartis assured pet owners and veterinarians that resuming production of affected pet medications is â€œa top priority.â€
What Alternatives are Available?
If your dog is currently taking Sentinel or Interceptor for dogs, the best thing to do is to keep your pet on the medication unless it becomes unavailable. The new shipments should ease the shortage for the time being. In the event that production does not resume quickly, your veterinarian can suggest an alternative product. Other heartworm preventatives on the market include Heartgard, Trifexis and Revolution. If finding a new preventive becomes necessary, your veterinarian can help you to choose one of these medications based on your dogâ€™s needs and health status. Hopefully, production of Sentinel and Interceptor will begin again soon, and you will have no need to change your dogâ€™s medication.