I recently had a “scare” when I discovered that the company I had trusted as a reputable US veterinary website turned out to be Canadian and the Frontline Plus product I had used on my cats was from Australia!I immediately wondered if my cats had been exposed to a “counterfeit” product that contained who knows what.
I contacted the company which sold me the product in the following email:
Last year I purchased Frontline Plus for cats from what I thought was a reputable US company. I realized today (one year after purchase) that (Company Name Omitted) is Canadian and the product sent to me was from Merial Australia Pty. Ltd Batch E40607BX Exp.: 05-2012
Is this a real Merial product and is it safe to use? Why does it have an expiration date when Frontline does not expire?
I need to reorder but don't want to use a counterfeit product not approved by EPA.
This is the response I received:
Dear Jami, We only sell genuine Frontline products made by Merial and source out the best deals to pass the savings on to you. There is no "Made in the USA" Frontline, Merial manufactures it in France then distributes throughout their world markets where they charge considerably more if their customers are in the US. Any dating is stamped on for stock rotation purposes as the Frontline does not go bad.
The primary ingredient in all Frontline products is Fipronil which kills fleas and ticks. The Frontline we sell is exactly as described on the manufacturer's own web site Merial.com: http://nz.merial.com/products/frontline_plus_cats.asp (This is a link to the Australian website which is not the same as US.)
Thank You, (Company Name Omitted)
Further research revealed that the product sold to me was “real” Frontline Plus that was produced by the Merial Corporation for Australia.This product is “legal” in Australia but it is not legal to sell in the US since it has not been approved by the EPA.Many online stores “pose” as US websites that are operated by a reputable veterinarian but they are actually businesses that operate outside the US.They are not subject to US laws and some will legally sell you products from other countries that are illegal to sell in the US.
In a phone call with a Merial Corporation veterinary technician the Merial Corporation confirmed that all Frontline Plus is manufactured in France, and the main ingredient to kill fleas is Fipronil.They would not confirm that all authenticFrontline Plus contains the same quantities of the Fipronil (or of other ingredients) and they stated that various countries have different application instructions according to that particular country’s guidelines for use of the product.For this reason, application instructions printed on the package carton may vary from country to country. While there is no such thing as “counterfeit Frontline Plus” the Merial Corporation confirmed that some companies have counterfeited the formulae and packaging and have sold this under the Merial name.The Merial Corporation further stated that they only sell Frontline Plus to licensed veterinarians and that consumers should only purchase the product from their veterinarian.
There seems to be some licensed veterinarians that are selling authenticFrontline Plus on their websites but I can only say “buyer beware”.There is no way to examine the product before you purchase it and you have no guarantee that the seller will give you a refund if the product should be counterfeit or if it is produced for countries outside the US. I recently (September 2010) purchased authentic Frontline Plus (12 Pack) for $123.99 from VetDepot.com. The order was placed on September 23rd and it arrived at my mailbox September 25th! I checked everything and this is the real EPA approved version.
VetDepot.com 848 N. Rainbow Blvd., Ste. 2228 Las Vegas, Nevada 89107 866-456-0400
The cost per application is $10.33 while my local veterinarian charges $15.78. The Australian version that I purchased unknowingly from a Canadian company one year ago currently sells for $7.42 per application. The site that I used one year ago appeared to be a US company that was run by a licensed veterinarian. As a general rule, the cheaper the product is the greater chance that it is either produced for countries outside the US or that it is counterfeit. I have three cats and all pet owners know that ANY savings on pet products is always helpful. While Fipronil is the main ingredient, no one, including the Merial Corporation, seems to be willing to confirm that the ingredients of Frontline Plus are the same in every country or that these ingredients are the same quantities worldwide for individual doses.I don't believe there would be much difference between an Australian cat and one in the US. Frontline Plus is sold in both countries and I have just unknowingly applied the Australian version to my US cats over the past year without harm. What bothers me is that the MerialCorporation does not provide a "fact sheet" that lists the various countries and the differing ingredients of the product that is sold world wide. If Australian Frontline Plus is safe for Australian kitties then why not provide a list of the ingredients? If there is slight variations then what difference would it make? The Merial Corporation is very cautious about disclosing any information about non-EPA approved Frontline Plus. A "fact sheet" would also help consumers who are sold "illegal" products to recognize them and take appropriate action. Instead of a "fact sheet" the Merial Corporation states that they cannot discuss anything about the ingredients because different countries have different regulations and application instructions. This attitude makes me wonder if I have exposed my cats to something harmful, but then again what is the difference between an Australian and a US kitty? If the product is safe for Aussie cats then it must be OK for my American kitties...
I also contacted the Merial Corporation via email and provided a link to this site. I asked them if they would like to make a "statement" or provide "contact information" that would be included on this page "exactly as it was sent to me" with no additions or deletions but I have not received a response (as of September 2010).
Since I can't get the "facts" from the Merial Corporation I can only speculate. The product that I applied to my three cats was genuine Frontline Plus that was not approved by the EPA but was approved for use in Australia. Was it the same product that I paid considerably more for in the US? That's the question Merial refuses to answer. As I already stated an Australian cat is no different than a US one. A cat is a cat and if a product is safe for one-then it must be safe for all cats around the world. We of course have no way of knowing what is in a "counterfeit" product but the question remains, "Is genuineFrontline Plus that is produced in France for the Merial Corporation the same world wide?" Why is Merial reluctant to either confirm that the product is the same or that it is different? When I think of this question I can only imagine two possible reasons. Either kitties outside the US are at great risk from use of this product or someone's bank account is filling up with US dollars!
I hope my experience can help other concerned pet owners.