Monday, December 22, 2014

Is TRIFEXIS safe for your pets?

      As veterinarians, veterinary nurses, and veterinary hospital staff members we have dedicated our entire careers to helping keep pets healthy and care for them when they become ill.  We do not prescribe medications, supplements, diets, or other interventions that we believe will cause harm to our patients.  The assertion by the recent Indianapolis Star article that we in the animal health services community are somehow driven by greed or willful ignorance to prescribe “dangerous” medications is baseless and patently offensive.

     Losing a pet to illness or injury is understandably traumatic and difficult, especially when death or severe illness is unexpected and ultimately unexplained, and we sympathize with anyone who has had to go through such an experience.   The recent Indianapolis Star articles are classic cases of sensationalism, inaccuracy, incompleteness, and the spinning of sad situations into predetermined conclusions with littleto no basis in actual fact.

    We recommend heartworm preventative medications (Heartgard, Sentinel, Trifexis, etc.) to prevent  heartworm disease, a serious parasitic disease of the lungs, large arteries in the lungs,  and in some cases the heart  itself.  This illness is life-threatening in advanced cases.  Likewise, the treatment for advanced stages of this disease comes with a significant risk of complications and death. . . yet untreated, the illness itself frequently leads to death.   Thus it makes much more sense to prevent it, with preventative medications that are statistically much lower risk.

    Virtually all medications and supplements, or for that matter anything else we put in or on our bodies or our pets’ bodies, come with certain risks.  In most cases those risks are very low, yet even placebos (sugar pills) “cause” adverse events when they’re used in studies.  In virtually all cases, medications and therapies prescribed for a specific problem and/or to prevent a specific problem are dramatically lower risk than leaving the  problem untreated . . .thus the justification for most patients.
    Our job is to help our clients make informed decisions regarding how to best care for their pets.  We takethis job very, very seriously.  We respect varied opinions and try to stick to facts, our personal experience, and our knowledge of ongoing discussions and advancements within the pet healthcare arena.  We also consider the pet as an individual in making recommendations, their current health statusand history, any adverse reactions to medications in their past, and their risk of acquiring the illness (in the case of prevention).

    We have had some patients who experienced stomach upset and even fewer patients who were lethargic after taking Trifexis, in which case that pet was generally changed to a different heartworm/fleapreventative medication.   We carry other routine heartworm preventatives, each with unique strengths and weaknesses. Anyone who is truly uncomfortable giving their pet Trifexis  or for any other reason wishes to give something other than Trifexis for heartworm/flea prevention should consider alternatives (Sentinel, Heartgard), remembering that there is not “perfect” medication or medication that can’t causeadverse events in certain individuals.

    Developing, producing, and profiting from medications does not make drug companies evil.  The production of medications is almost always a response to a need  from the public to prevent or treat a serious medical problem that leads to suffering or worse.   Likewise, we as veterinarians consider far more than just what drug manufacturers tell us when deciding whether or not to prescribe a medication,primarily whether or not we believe that medication to be generally safe and effective and our perception of potential risks of prescribing the medication to our patients.  We develop our opinions from our objective assessment of all the information we can gather, most of which comes from sources not connected with drug manufacturers.  We also carefully consider our personal experience and the experience of other veterinarians and experts.

Hazel Dell Animal Hospital ~ Clark Bassett, DVM and Gregory McDaniel, DVM and Staff