The president of the Georgia Veterinary Medical Association fears dog owners will panic after seeing a new report on the controversial dog pill Trifexis.
Consumer investigator Jim Strickland obtained new numbers via the Freedom of Information Act and learned the information itself is under scrutiny.
Dr. Duffy Jones is concerned dog owners may be shying away from all heartworm prevention, due to lingering concerns about Trifexis and the confusing FDA report on the drug.
"When we see a preventable disease, these are the ones that break our hearts. These dogs could have been totally fine if we could just give them the medication," said Jones.
In November 2013, Strickland exposed the fact that the drug had been blamed for 700 dog deaths. He recently learned the new number is 1,500, but a reporting quirk in the FDA system produced a document that put the number at 12,800.
Trifexis manufacturer Elanco told Strickland the number on its face was "grossly inaccurate."
"When you look at the data and you look how it's reported and you see that the number is not true, that can create a lot of panic and that's what we don't want to have happen," said Jones
"The hard part about these numbers, even the 1,500, is these are reports that may not be tied to the drug itself," he said.
Elanco officials say they're still looking for a causal link but can't find any proof the pill caused any death.
Dog owner Chris Smith of Auburn says his dog Kinzie died within hours of her first dose. He believes her death was the first reported death linked to the drug.
With 1,500 death complaints versus 80 million doses and counting, Smith believes Trifexis will outlive the doubts.
"Looking at the numbers, it's how many dogs that are taking it and not having reactions versus how many are taking it and having adverse reactions. What's the percentages?" he said.
The FDA continues to monitor reports about the drug, but there is no active investigation.