Flea control remains a contentious subject in the companion animal health industry.
Each company has its own take on the best way to prevent flea infestations. With at least anecdotal reports of fleas gaining resistance to fipronil, most companies agree that an integrated approach is necessary.
Where the companies diverge is on how to administer that approach. From adding new molecules and delivery systems to environmental controls to simply increasing client compliance, many methods are available to approach flea control.
Collaring the Flea Problem
Bayer HealthCare’s Shawnee, Kan.-based Animal Health division introduced the Seresto flea collar at the North American Veterinary Conference in Orlando, Fla., in January. The product is available for both cats and dogs and promises to repel ticks for eight months.
Bayer developed the collar using a polymer developed by its parent company’s MaterialScience Division. The Seresto collar incorporates imidacloprid, the same chemical found in Bayer’s Advantage topical flea control products, and flumethrin, a pyrethroid acaracide.Flea collars have been around for decades, but Bayer says its version of the old neck halo is unlike anything on the market.
The chemicals in the collar work synergistically to repel fleas and ticks, said Cristiano von Simson, DVM, MBA, director of veterinary technical services for Bayer’s Animal Health Division. He added that Seresto has one distinct advantage over its predecessors.
“With traditional collars, the actives were found around and on the surface of the collar like a powdered sugar donut,” Dr. von Simson said. “The incorporated ingredients in the polymer that makes [Seresto] releases gradually rather than all at once.”
Bayer expects the collar to increase compliance among owners who occasionally miss monthly doses of spot-ons and edibles.
Surprisingly, the advanced suspension polymer wasn’t what attracted most veterinarians to the Bayer booth at NAVC. Rather, it was a more aesthetic, but not entirely superficial, feature of the collar.
“One thing we are adding to this collar is a little bling,” von Simson said. “It has little reflectors you can put on the collar that will make it easier to see the animal at night. At NAVC, a lot of people really liked this.”
The collar has a suggested retail price of $70 and is sold through veterinarians and pet specialty stores, von Simson said. The company is planning a consumer marketing campaign similar to those it runs for other flea preventives, like Advantage.
Divide and Conquer
Virbac Animal Health of Fort Worth, Texas, recently launched a pair of flea-control products in Effipro, a fipronil-based topical for cats, and Effitix, a fipronil- and permethrin-based topical for dogs.
Virbac didn’t exactly reinvent the wheel by launching fipronil-based preventives, considering the bevy of other options available. But the addition of the topicals added to Virbac’s position that flea control is a matter of multiple modalities, said Heidi Lobprise, DVM, a senior technical manager with Virbac.
“In the ’80s, vets and techs were important resources to talk to about keeping control of the environment as well as the pet,” Dr. Lobprise said. “Even though we have products for [use] once a month, they are not necessarily the cure-all for every situation.”
| Fighting Fleas
Click here to download a handout depicting the flea life cycle and give it to your clients when discussing flea control solutions.
Virbac calls its strategy integrative parasite control. In addition to the new topical preventives, the company boasts a fogger, a yard spray, a dip and a shampoo in its flea prevention line.
Lobprise acknowledged that some studies have shown that fleas are gaining resistance to fipronil, but she said that’s all the more reason to use multiple methods to control flea populations.
“Part of it is having a good, consistent message, from the front office to the techs and veterinarians,” she said. “While I know it might be boring to talk about fleas rather than to be doing medicine, the veterinary team is the best resource for clients.”
The Newer Kid On the Block
Ceva Animal Health launched Vectra 3D in 2007, but the release might as well have been a secret.
The Lenexa, Kan., company rolled out Vectra 3D with a small sales force, but the preventive has been growing in popularity over the past three years, said Elizabeth Hodgkins, DVM, Esq., director of veterinary services at Ceva.
Vectra 3D uses three active ingredients: a proprietary neonicotinoid-class flea adulticide called dinotefuran along with pyrethrin and the insect growth regulator tyriproxifin.
About three years ago, Byron Blagburn, Ph.D., a professor in Auburn University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and a board member of the Companion Animal Parasite Council, conducted a study in which he used polymerase-chain reaction to determine how much blood fleas were harvesting from test dogs with and without application of Vectra 3D. With the preventive, feeding was reduced by up to 80 percent in five minutes, Dr. Hodgkins said.
Blagburn has another study under way involving other aspects of Vectra 3D.
“We’re very interested in how different actives do or do not behave,” Hodgkins said. “We will look at other actives.”
Ceva supports one of the most robust anti-diversion systems in the industry.
The company’s Bloodhound technology maintains a database of every barcode that leaves the factory floor for distribution to veterinary practices. If a batch shows up in a so-called “non-ethical” channel, Ceva can scan the barcode and trace the product to the original buyer.
The program is so robust that a full-time employee is dedicated to it.
Down But Not Out
Novartis Animal Health of Greensboro, N.C., has three flea preventives based on the company’s novel lufenuron molecule—Program and Sentinel flavor tabs and Program suspension—but good luck finding them.
It’s been just over a year since U.S. Food and Drug Administration inspections led Novartis to halt production at the Lincoln, Neb., plant where the three products are manufactured in the United States. As of early February, the company had no estimate on when production would restart.
However, Novartis’ CapStar (nytenpyrim) oral tablet for dogs and cats is still on the market along with the company’s take on fipronil-based topicals in Parastar.
Sharron Barnett, technical director of pesticides at Novartis, does not see fipronil resistance as being widespread but rather limited to pockets.
“If you ask vets, a lot will say [fipronil] doesn’t work as well today as it did before,” Barnett said. “A lot times that can be due to things like misapplication or noncompliance. Topicals are notorious for only being used when owners see fleas.”
Like Virbac, Novartis emphasizes the need for an integrated approach to flea control.
“You have to remember that Mother Nature can be one step ahead of whatever we throw at her, and we have to stay one step ahead,” Barnett said. “No farmer who stays in business for any amount of time uses the same chemical to spray. They use multiple chemicals and chilling and rotation, and they are able to reduce the ability of insects to resist.”