EPA Increases Restrictions on Flea and Tick Products

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Wednesday that it will begin implementing several measures to increase the safety of spot-on pesticide flea and tick control products used on dogs and cats.

The agency will first review labels to determine which products need stronger and clearer labeling statements. EPA will then develop more stringent testing and evaluation requirements for both existing and new products. The agency expects these steps will help prevent adverse side effects—such as irritation; redness; or gastrointestinal problems that include vomiting or diarrhea; or effects to the nervous system, such as trembling, appearing depressed or seizures—experienced by pets when using spot-on products.

"EPA is committed to better protecting the health and safety of pets and families in all communities across our nation," said Steve Owens, assistant administrator of EPA's Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances. "New restrictions will be placed on these products, and pet owners need to carefully read and follow all labeling before exposing your pet to a pesticide."

Among immediate actions that EPA will pursue are:

  • Requiring manufacturers of spot-on pesticide products to improve labeling, making instructions clearer to prevent product misuse.
  • Requiring more precise label instructions to ensure proper dosage per pet weight.
  • Requiring clear markings to differentiate between dog and cat products, and disallowing similar brand names for dog and cat products. Similar names may have led to misuse.
  • Requiring additional changes for specific products, as needed, based on product-specific evaluations.
  • When new products are registered, granting only conditional, time-limited registrations to allow for post-marketing product surveillance. If there are incidents of concern associated with the product, EPA will take appropriate regulatory action.
  • Restricting the use of certain inert ingredients that EPA finds may contribute to the incidents.
  • Launching a consumer information campaign to explain new label directions and to help users avoid making medication errors.
The EPA also will require more standardized post-market surveillance reporting on adverse effects, submission of more sales information to evaluate incident rates, and up-to-date scientific data requirements on pre- and post-market testing to match the Food and Drug Administration's requirements.

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