ESCCAP UK & Ireland ESCCAP UK & Ireland
  • 09 June 2017

The importance of product innovation in pet parasite control

Barely a month goes by without a new parasiticide product being launched to much fanfare and promotion. These launches are met with excitement by clinical parasitologists as it means another weapon in the arsenal when designing parasite control programs.


In first opinion practice however, new products are sometimes greeted with fatigue, scepticism and the question:

“Why do we need more parasite treatment products?”


This response is understandable given that the market appears close to saturation point. However, new parasiticide products are undeniably a good thing for the Veterinary profession and parasite control. The introduction of these products brings a wide range of benefits for client, pet and practitioner alike.

·         New molecules decrease resistance risk – The presence of large wildlife reservoirs, intermediate and paratenic hosts has meant that resistance in pet animal parasites has been very slow to develop. It currently has little or no influence on the control of ectoparasites and intestinal helminths of cats and dogs. This does not however, mean that Veterinary professionals should be complacent and emerging resistance in Dirofilaria immitis to macrocyclic lactones, and cases of Giardia resistant to fenbendazole, demonstrate the need for the use of parasiticides to be evidence and risk based. There are many circumstances where the use of parasiticides however, is vital to prevent disease in cats and dogs and limit zoonotic risk. The development and discovery of new drug classes such as the isoxazolines has created completely new options in the treatment of ectoparasites, but the control of other parasites such as tapeworms relies heavily on just one drug, praziquantel. Development of new drugs in tapeworm and heartworm prevention would create more options, if resistance were to start to develop.

·         More choice increases compliance – A risk based approach to assessing a client and pet’s needs is vitally important to avoid excessive treatment, while bonding the client and ensuring all parasitic disease threats are met. Compliance however, is also vital if these treatments are to be delivered successfully. Clients may have a strong preference for spot on treatments, tablets or a collar, and the pet may have had adverse reactions to products such as vomiting or localised skin reactions in the past. Some clients may require a systemic product as they shampoo their pet or it frequently swims. Having a wide range of products allows flexibility in improving compliance, while not compromising on parasite control.

·         More drug companies have comprehensive parasiticide portfolios – Some Veterinary practices understandably want to deal with a limited number of companies to increase buyer discounts and to build relationships with their representatives. This could be a problem historically if certain types of product and parasite coverage were limited to individual companies. Now with most drug companies widening their parasiticide portfolio, risk and compliance based decisions can be made, while still dealing with the drug company of the practice’s choice

·         New products bring innovative problem solving research and validation of old data. – The arrival of new products generates vitally important data in one of two ways. New drugs require studies to obtain their license against target species but can also generate research demonstrating efficacy against a wider range of parasites. This is useful where alternative treatments are not available or have significant limitations. An example is the isoxozlines which are licensed to treat and prevent various ticks and flea infestations, but have also showed promising efficacy in the treatment of demodicosis. This has provided a useful additional range of treatments, where licensed options against Demodex are contraindicated or have proved ineffective in individual cases. Where old molecules are used in new formulations, it allows revalidation of what can be very old efficacy data. Selamectin, fipronil, imidacloprid and praziquantel are all old drugs which have had their efficacy revalidated when they have been used in new combination products.   

Without innovation by drug companies in developing new molecules, and finding novel combinations and formulations of old ones, product options for treating parasites would be limited and rely on old data for evidence of their efficacy. By considering the possibilities that new products bring and having positive discussions with drug company representatives, we encourage drug company research and development and further new drug and novel drug combination research. In doing so, there is increased flexibility in the tools that are available to control parasitic disease outbreaks and zoonotic risk. ESCCAP UK & Ireland will continue to engage and encourage cooperation with all drug companies in the Veterinary market to find new solutions to parasite control problems.

Written by Ian Wright BVMS BSc MSc MRCVS, Head of ESCCAP UK & Ireland. 


For more information, visit