By: Edie Lau for The VIN News Service
At least nine class-action lawsuits are pending against makers of topical flea and tick products in the wake of a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) investigation into safety of the pesticides used on dogs and cats.
One law firm in New Jersey has filed seven of the suits — one each against Merial Ltd., and its parent companies Merck & Co., Inc. and Sanofi-Aventis U.S., Inc., maker of Frontline; Summit VetPharm LLC and its parent company, Sumitomo Corp. of America, maker of Vectra; The Hartz Mountain Corp. and its parent, Sumitomo, maker of UltraGuard; Bayer Healthcare LLC, maker of Advantage and K9 Advantix; Sergeant’s Pet Care Products, Inc., maker of SentryPro; Farnam Companies, Inc., maker of Bio Spot and Adams; and Wellmark International, Inc., maker of Zodiac.
An eighth suit filed by a lawyer in California working with another New Jersey firm targets Hartz, Sergeant’s and Summit VetPharm.
A ninth suit filed by lawyers in Chicago and New York names Central Garden & Pet Co., Farnam, Hartz, Sergeant’s and Sumitomo as defendants.
The lawyers involved said more suits may be coming.
The burst of litigation represents increasing public awareness of potential problems with the popular parasite-control treatments, especially since an announcement by the EPA on March 17 that safety concerns are real and that tighter regulation and oversight are justified.
Jacqueline Mottek, a class-action and consumer advocacy attorney in Sausalito, Calif., said she has been “absolutely inundated” with calls from pet owners as a result of the EPA action and subsequent news reports.
She said the proliferation of suits reflects the fact that victims number in the thousands. The lawyers, she said, want “to make sure that people are represented. We also want to make sure that the courts understand the gravity and extent of this problem.”
The EPA’s investigation began about a year ago when it saw that the number of reported adverse events in pets exposed to topical flea and tick products topped 44,000 in 2008, an increase of 53 percent compared with the previous year.
The rate of incidents was 16 per 100,000 doses sold. Story continues at the VIN News website.