Beware pet owners, flea mediation is counterfeited and sold online. Pets could have adverse reactions

My cat hates flea medication. I hate putting it on him too. He can detect the smell from across the house, and will go into hiding. I skip putting it on him during winter time since it is cold enough for adult fleas to all die outside.

I buy mine online as it is cheaper by around $10 then the local pet stores. While I  buy only from trusted pet sites, some other pet owners will buy from a auction site or a site that allows 3rd party sellers like Amazon. They should beware, as just like every other product on planet Earth, there is a counterfeit. Pet medication is no different. A man was even sent to jail for selling 3,500 units of counterfeit Frontline medication. That means up to 3,500 harmed pets.

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The EPA is involved with finding counterfeit pesticides. Usually I do not hear of the EPA being involved in anti-counterfeit matters. Since pesticides are used on the environment, they get involved. Even if the pesticide is put into onto a cat. The EPA  has its own law enforcement department(what federal agency does not these days?)  to deal with things like this. I am glad they have removed sellers they find that sell fake products. I would hate to have found out the flea medication I put on my cat was counterfeit and may even harm him. I am sure all pet owners feel the same.  That is how the EPA found this counterfeiter. A buyer of one of his sales put the medication on their pet cat resulting in a adverse reaction.

From justice.gov

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – A Warwick, R.I., man was sentenced to 24 months in federal prison today for Internet sales of unregistered, unlabeled pesticides for cats and dogs while infringing on the trademark of two well known national brand names, “Frontline” and “Frontline Plus.”

U.S. District Court Chief Judge Mary M. Lisi also ordered John Buerman, 51, of Warwick, R.I., to serve three years of supervised release following his prison term. Buerman, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Providence in August 2010 to one count of trafficking in counterfeit goods and knowingly using a counterfeit mark; and one count of knowingly distributing and selling a misbranded pesticide. Buerman made more than 3,500 sales through eBay.

At the time of Buerman’s guilty plea, Assistant U.S. Attorney Terrence P. Donnelly told the court that Buerman created an online eBay store in January 2007 called “Catsmartplus,” and began marketing pet pesticides he falsely claimed were “Frontline” or “Frontline Plus.” Additionally, Buerman falsely represented that the pesticides were approved by the EPA. Mr. Donnelly told the court that Buerman purchased large quantities of counterfeit pesticides for cats and dogs from distributors in various parts of the world, including several in the United States, as well as Canada, Australia, and China. He made 3,579 sales on eBay totaling $174,172 from January 2007 until federal and state agents executed a search warrant at his R.I. home in June 2009.

How he was caught:

The matter came to light when a customer from the Los Angeles area purchased the product from the defendant’s online store for $32.95. The customer reported the matter to the authorities after one of her cats had an adverse reaction to the pesticide. Testing at EPA’s National Enforcement Investigations Center (NEIC) laboratory confirmed that the products contained unregistered pesticides. Investigators also purchased similar misbranded and trademark-infringing items from the defendant’s online store.

Where are these sold online? It so happens that this week I needed to resupply on flea medicine. I got to Amazon and started reading the reviews as my favorite brand seemed to have a lot of recent bad reviews. From Amazon:

counterfeit fronline flea medicine cats

Counterfeit medication unfortunately is all to common. We cover stories all the time on this blog about it. You can read one story here about how counterfeit cancer medication entered the US supply chain. 
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What is the advise on how to avoid these counterfeit flea medications?

The EPA has a whole page of tips.

There is no single characteristic that will identify all counterfeit products. Some of the issues that have been found include:

  • Differences in weight between the outer package and the product inside
  • Lack of directions in English
  • Products not packaged in child-resistant packaging
  • Missing directions for use
  • Product in the container is not appropriate for the animal or size of animal pictured on the outside
  • Stickers on the box to hide the foreign labeling
  • EPA registration number is missing
  • foreign labeled product with stickers containing some U.S. information
  • foreign-labeled products.

Take the time and make sure your purchase is not fake. They can harm your cat or dog.

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