For too long, safe and effective flea drugs prescribed by your Veterinarian have helped the pet parents to fight the blood-sucking parasites. However, the market today features various generic flea drugs that are available over the counter. These drugs are more affordable than the prescription options available to pet owners but a common question faced by most pet parents is about effectiveness of these drugs in fighting flea infestation.
Advances in flea medications
For a long period of time in the past, flea control medications contained harsh chemicals and compounds that were akin to nerve gases of World War I. Most of these Carbamates and Organophosphates worked well to remove and kill fleas, but they were very harmful to pets and created the possibility of serious toxicity. Since fleas, ticks and other parasites are medically related complications, so they require educated medical research.
In about last 15 years, modern chemistry has produced more protected topical flea remedies. Coming to the modern era today, there are many over the counter flea drugs that you can find which are either being sold through Veterinary offices or other "ethical" channels. Most of these medications feature a compound “Fipronil”. Currently, the compound “Fipronil” is readily available for generic use. Merial, the original patent holder, manufactures an outstanding flea product (Frontline®) that was the preferred choice of veterinarians for many years. Now, at least 15 generic “Fipronil” flea products are offered in the OTC (over the counter) markets.
What does this mean for you and your pets? Will you be satisfied with generic flea medications?
First of all, let's understand what a generic drug is. When a particular pharmaceutical company develops a new drug and has the copyrights for that drug, they are permitted to sell that drug for a period of time during which no other company can sell a similar drug. When the copyrights expire, other companies can then market and sell their own products, similar to the original drug. Since these generic companies don’t have any research costs and very little marketing costs, their overall costs are much lower and, therefore, the generic products are available for sale on lower prices.
Even though generics use the similar active ingredients as the branded, they may not be the same product precisely. Different inactive ingredients that are generally considered safe may be included in the generic drug. However, the FDA requires that generic manufacturers to prove that their product bears biological similarity to the original product. In case of flea medications, these inactive ingredients are usually the carrier molecules which help spread the medication across the pet’s body.
In the case of topical flea and tick products, several of these products are controlled by the EPA than FDA which implies that a Veterinarian’s prescription is not required to buy the product.
Is it alright to buy these over the counter flea medications, if their prices are lower and the product is similar?
Fleas, as well as other parasites, can cause multiple medical problems beyond simple itching, which can further result in serious diseases if not handled properly. Your Veterinarian consultation and expertise is recommended before using any topical treatment. In case of any adverse reaction from any of the topical treatment you should always consult your Veterinarian. If your Vet is suggesting any OTC generic flea medication for your pet, then that option will likely be economical for you.
Your Veterinarian is aware of the fact that your pet is special and may not stand certain products. Therefore, your Veterinarian’s advice is very valuable. Your Veterinarian will also let you know about possible interactions between flea medications and the other drugs your pet is taking.
The healthcare team at your Veterinarian’s office can show you how to apply the product on your pet and will also keep a track on what you are using for your pet to prevent future complications.