I had the opportunity to see Mandy Moore while she appeared on the Rosie O’Donnell show in New York several years ago. I was very impressed with how gracious Mandy Moore was to some fans during commercial breaks of the show. Although I did not know much about her back then, I was impressed with how together she appeared to be and the maturity with which she held herself, particularly for one so young in a cut throat business. Ever since then, I have had a great deal of respect for the actress/singer.

You can imagine how shocked I was when I received from a friend an invite to a “launch party” for PetArmor, a generic form of Frontline containing fipronil as the active ingredient. Here’s the Save The Date teaser:

ASPCA and Mandy Moore Teaser

Notice how they don’t mention PetArmor at all in the teaser. This was followed up by an email on April 12, 2011 stating: “More information will be coming soon” for the event on the 20th. On the 14th, the full media alert was released. Here are a few highlights:

MANDY MOORE TAKES THE PETARMOR™ PET PROTECTION PLEDGE, ELEVATES THE IMPORTANCE OF PET HEALTHCARE

Launches Innovative Campaign, Category-Changing Animal Health Product and Announces Collaboration Between PetArmor™ and the ASPCA

WHAT:

Mandy Moore and the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) celebrate the launch of PetArmor™, the first EPA-approved generic flea and tick treatment with fipronil for both dogs and cats, by signing the PetArmor Protection Pledge and launching a national awareness campaign to highlight the importance of animal healthcare.

Together, they encourage pet owners to take the pledge and protect pets from the dangers of fleas and ticks.  PetArmor is a new, over-the-counter product that offers the same active ingredients and the same flea and tick protection as Frontline® but at significant savings.  PetArmor will considerably change the pet care aisle, making flea and tick protection more affordable and accessible to pet owners nationwide.

WHY:

Because about 73 million U.S. households have one or more pets, with dogs and cats accounting for about three-quarters.*(via APPA) And now, at significant savings off the leading brand name product, PetArmor promises better health for all pets. Additionally, with each person who takes the pledge, PetArmor will make a $1.00 donation to the ASPCA, up to $100,000.

PHOTO OPPS:

Mandy Moore signing the pledge, interacting with dogs and cats

Mandy Moore discussing her commitment to protecting pets and the importance of campaign and innovative new product

Remarks and interviews with an ASPCA Veterinarian and PetArmor officials

First, Betty White goes to Sergeant’s without really looking into the products she is backing and now the lovely Mandy Moore?

The release sounds too good to be true – and it is. First, I already wrote about the conflict of interest that the ASPCA has in their toxicology department has with the makers of pet flea and tick treatments. This “launch” backing PetArmor is a prime example of blatantly stepping over the line. The ASPCA Poison Control Center takes the adverse reaction calls for flea and tick products. Manufacturers are required to report to the EPA. However, the ASPCA Professional Services also testify in court for these same companies and take money from these companies for their services. Most companies know which side their bread is buttered on and the ASPCA is no exception. Despite the Humane Society and almost every other major animal advocacy organization has stated that over-the-counter flea and tick products are an issue, but the ASPCA still claims what manufacturers say (which is illegal technically by the way): “Safe when used as directed.”

Putting the ASPCA “stamp of approval” on a pet product designed with highly toxic pesticides, and undisclosed “inert” ingredients which could be even more harmful, is reckless and lulls the public into a greater sense of false security. We already have that issue with pet parents thinking that because something is on the shelf at the grocery store or retailer, that it has some measure of safety.

One of the main focal points of the PetArmor marketing strategy is getting people to sign their “Pledge”. For everyone who signs, they donate one dollar to the already wealthy ASPCA coffers.

Mandy Moore Signs the PetArmor Pledge after listing the names of her pets who will now be "protected" by it.

But who is PetArmor and how did this happen?

PetArmor’s “on record” manufacturer brand is FidoPharm. A cutesy name for a dangerous product. It brings to mind frolicking puppies running on green grass. It’s actually owned by a company called Velcera, who was in a legal patent dispute with Merial, the makers of Frontline. For some reason, at the EPA, the use of PetArmor and PetArmor Plus was registered by what they call their “affiliate” LoradoChem, Inc. officially located at Cira Centre, 12th Floor, 29202 Arch St., Philadelphia, PA 19104-2891. This address is actually registered to a lawfirm which specializes in intellectual property litigation, Woodcock Washburn LLP.

It was difficult to find any information on the company LoradoChem except in reference to this generic product. That makes me think it was created by this law firm specifically to register PetArmor without raising the eyebrows of Merial, who were already involved with a patent infringement lawsuit about PetArmor.

John Preston, the Chairman of the Board of Velcera, used to be the founding Executive Chairman of Merial, the makers of Frontline. He also worked for various branches of Merck.

Dennis Steadman is Velcera’s CEO. He was the Vice President of Merial, makers of Frontline and also served as Vice President of US Operations for Merck.

The rest of the Directors appear to be venture capitalists.

According to the EPA, the registration numbers for PetArmor (86230-1, 86230-2, 86230-3 and 86230-4) will all be made in India. Alternate name brands that will be the same registration numbers include TrustGard, Velcera Fipronil and Fipronil for Cats (or Fipronil for Dogs).

Is it Safe?

At the end of the day, most pet parents just want to know they are making the safest decision for their pets and family. You ALWAYS must be very careful when using a chemical based pesticide, especially in your home or on your pets. This is heavy-duty stuff and it is designed to kill. It kills well, but at what cost?

Is fipronil safe? For years, vets who have been at conferences sponsored by the companies that produce these products have mimicked the words of their product reps. “Safe when used as directed”. But they won’t tell you that fipronil is considered a possible carcinogen and a suspected endocrine disruptor. They won’t tell you this because they likely don’t know.

According to the 1996 Fact Sheet on fipronil:

Fipronil has been classified as a Group C (Possible Human) Carcinogen based on an increase in thyroid follicular cell tumors in both sexes of the rat. The increase is statistically significant by both pair-wise and trend analyses. The RfD methodology was selected for quantification because the thyroid tumors appeared to be related to a disruption in the thyroid-pituitary status…

An acceptable chronic rat feeding study identified the following effects: seizures, including seizures resulting in death, decreased body weight gain, decreased food consumption and food conversion efficiency, decreased hematology measures, alterations in clinical chemistry (cholesterol, calcium, and protein), alterations in thyroid hormones, alterations in urine chemistry, changes on gross necropsy, increase in liver and thyroid weights, and progressive senile nephropathy (kidney effects)…

The acute dietary endpoint of concern is acute neurotoxicity… based on decreased hind leg splay observed at this level at seven hours post treatment. The TES committee also identified short and intermediate term occupational and residential exposure end points based on a 21-day dermal toxicity study…

… reproductive toxicity was … based on clinical signs of toxicity, decreased litter size, decreased body weights, decrease in the percentage of animals mating, reduction in fertility index, reduced post-implantation survival and offspring postnatal survivability, and delay in physical development….

And on and on. Of course the label will have the now familiar caution of “Hazardous to Humans and Domestic Animals” on it.

I hope for a day when these products can be easily evaluated in a true and honest fashion by pet parents, instead of by marketing ploys and tactics. Mandy Moore, if you ever read this, I hope you take this to heart. When you think you are protecting your pets, you are doing them and yourself a great disservice to health. There are safer alternatives. Cheaper is not better.

For a more information, check out this wonderful article by James TerBush of Biospot Victims on the FidoPharm and ASPCA “partnership”. You may need to scroll the page to find it, but James has managed to gather a vast database of information.

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