A diagnosis of canine heartworm disease is devastating under the best circumstances. The treatment is expensive and potentially painful. Complications from heartworm disease are common during treatment (it is the death of worms, not the treatment itself, that leads to the most serious complications during treatment).
As bad as heartworm treatment is, it is better than the alternative. Untreated heartworms can cause heart failure and death.
Now a supply side shortage of the only medicine licensed to treat heartworm disease means that pets with the syndrome may have limited options.
From the Clinician’s Brief website:
Due to “unforseen technical difficulties” Merial announced that they are experiencing production shortages of Immiticide (melarsomine dihydrochloride). Immiticide, currently the only drug available to treat adult heartworms, will not be back in production until April of 2010. Veterinarians and shelters can no longer order the amounts they need through their representative, but instead are being asked to call the Merial Customer Care line at 888.XXX.XXXX.
In order to receive the drug, Merial technicians now have to approve each and every sale of Immiticide and will screen patient medical information to determine which animals will receive the drug. Merial is currently approving Immiticide only for emergency patients and those with the greatest need for the drug on a case-by-case basis.
What’s a concerned pet owner to do? Don’t let your pet contract heartworm. Heartworm may be hard to treat, but it’s easy to prevent.
Heartworm is 100% preventable with safe and effective medications. Most medications also keep pets free from intestinal parasites that can cause disease in pets and humans.
Talk to your vet about heartworm prevention.
Photo: heartworm treatment is no fun even when it’s available.