The longer I practice veterinary medicine, the more of a late adopter I become.
Several years ago a new vaccine was introduced for dogs. The vaccine was intended to help prevent, or at least slow the development of the most common disease in dogs: dental disease. The vaccine was released with moderate fanfare, but I declared upon its release that I wouldn’t be rushing to administer it.
It is my opinion that many veterinary products are rushed to market without adequate investigation of safety and efficacy. Regulations for veterinary products are much more lax than those for human pharmaceuticals. When a new product such as the periodontal disease vaccine is released, I (and many vets) am inclined to take a wait-and-see approach. After the product has been on the market for a while, revelations about safety and efficacy (or the lack of one or both) often occur. I believe that pets are generally over-vaccinated in the USA, so I am especially reluctant to jump on the bandwagon for a vaccine that is designed to prevent a disease that is easily preventable with other tactics (tooth brushing, in this case).
Veterinary Practice News reports that Pfizer has discontinued production of the canine periodontal disease vaccine. The reason: it does not work. From VPN:
The Porphyromonas Denticanis-Gulae-Salivosa Bacterin vaccine was conditionally licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in September 2006. Since then, the Madison, N.J.-based company has conducted a 48-month field efficacy study intended to support the full licensure of this product.
Although the study confirmed the vaccines safety, it did not demonstrate a vaccine effect in vaccinates (as compared to controls) for either of the key efficacy variables assessed (attachment loss and gingival bleeding index), according to a letter sent to veterinarians in early March by Oliver Knesl, BVSc, MRCVS, marketing manager of companion animal biologicals at Pfizer Animal Health.
Sadly, the release of ineffective products is not uncommon in the veterinary marketplace. Let us hope that the vaccine truly was as safe as Pfizer claims.