Musings of a Veterinarian

OTC Flea Preventatives: Friend or Foe?

October 06, 2010 By: Dr. K Category: For Vets, Opinion

Months ago the previously prescription-only flea preventatives Advantage and Frontline became available over-the-counter at pet stores and large chains. Veterinarians were, for obvious reasons, not happy to have to compete with discount giants like Walmart. A recent trip to Petsmart reminded me we veterinary practices are still in a competitive market when I saw our prices were comparable. Other practices that have created a cash cow out of their prescription flea preventatives are not so lucky. Finances aside, I see a prominent silver lining in the change from prescription to OTC.

I see failure after failure with home flea remedies and OTC products from Hartz and Sergeants flea products. Garlic and these products are not effective. I’m sure I’ll get a backlash from the garlic crowd, but find me scientific evidence garlic does anything for your pet other than cause anemia. I digress. With a population of folks who rarely bring pets to the veterinarian, these people can never procure quality flea and tick products. From a zoonosis and quality of life view, it is critical to have pets on flea and tick prevention no matter their veterinary-patient-client relationship. The availability of Frontline and Advantage now allows all dog and cat owners to provide their pets the best prevention.

Advice to my peers: Don’t lament the loss of your cash cow and celebrate the progress in animal and human health.

5 Comments to “OTC Flea Preventatives: Friend or Foe?”

  1. I’m gonna disagree a tiny bit with you on your first sentence..Advantage and Frontline have never been true prescription drugs, they were just supposedly only sold thru licensed veterinarians. Of course, we veterinarians got out the tall boots when Bayer and Merial fed us that line of…..stuff. Bayer (manufacturer of Advantage) made the public announcement of their “change” in the policy, and began openly distributing to OTC retailers. Merial (makers of Frontline) still to this day denies any direct OTC distribution or diversion of product, even tho it is readily available in any pet store, online retailer, big box store (including home improvement stores!), and has been for years. I wish Merial would follow Bayer, just market it openly, then I would have a little more respect for these companies. And I do agree with your last statement/advice!

  2. I, too, agree with your last statement. As a vet tech who has used Advantage and Frontline Plus, as many of our patients have with no ill effects (or death), I would much rather have people use them and being OTC now will hopefully steer most of them away from the Hartz and Sargeants products.

  3. the pet store here in our area offers me a great deal of discount when i buy from them ‘-“

  4. Have you considered Vectra? We started carrying Vectra this last summer. We not only LOVE it (kills faster, lasts longer, easier application for owners) but it IS exclusive to vets (they track each package to avoid “black market” selling)
    I a usually pretty slow to jump on a band wagon-they bugged me for a good year before we got fed up with OTCs and decided to give it a try. We still carry Frontline but hardly sell it. Clients, as it turns out, are tired of the OTC wars too. They just want a product that YOU recommend and that works! Just a thought (I am NOT a Vectra rep, BTW)

  5. Kelly – We do offer Vectra in addition to Frontline and Advantage. I don’t have enough feedback to formulate an opinion on effectiveness in my area. Practicing in the Northeast with an exploding tick population has made me reluctant to switch from products I know work well. I have recommended Vectra several times. Perhaps this spring I’ll take the full leap!


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