Veterinary association director standing by Trifexis despite questions over pet deaths

by: Jim Strickland Updated:

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ATLANTA - The incoming president of the Georgia Veterinary Medical Association told Channel 2 consumer investigator Jim Strickland that he will stick with the flea and heartworm pill Trifexis.

Strickland uncovered reports from the FDA filled with cases of 700 dog deaths in which pet owners blamed the pill.

Dr. Duffy Jones said Trifexis may not be the right product for all dogs, and some animals may have underlying issues that put them at greater risk.

"You prescribe it with confidence?" Strickland asked Duffy.

"I do, and I actually give it to my own dog still," Jones said.

In his examining room, Jones has boxes of Trifexis on display. He commented on the revelation that 700 dog deaths are blamed on the drug.

"For me, what that tells me is I want to know more about what's going on. I want to know what the cases were like. What other drugs were they on? Were there other medical conditions?" Jones said.

Strickland's initial investigation centered around seven pure-bred litter mates.

Four of the dogs were never on Trifexis and are thriving. Three that took it were dead in weeks after a single dose.

"I'm glad so many dogs have done well on Trifexis. That's lucky for them. We weren't so lucky," said Jenny Schmitt, whose puppy Bishop died Sept. 22.

A necropsy from the University of Georgia says the dog died of heart inflammation, likely brought on by a bacterial infection.

Schmitt suspects the entire litter may carry that bug, but that Trifexis set it loose in the three that died. It's only a theory.

"Are we ever going to know with 100 percent certainty the whos and whats and what happened? Probably not," Schmitt said.

The FDA and drug maker Elanco each say they are monitoring complaints.

"(The) FDA does not discuss whether or what products are the subject of an 'investigation.'

"However, FDA has a very stringent process in place for monitoring new animal drugs in their first years of marketing," FDA spokesperson Shelly Burgess said in an email to Strickland.



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