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“PetMed Express is among a growing number of pharmacies and retailers trying to undercut DVMs on flea and tick killers, obtaining those products apparently via gray-market channels.”

“We only guarantee what is sold through licensed veterinarians with a Novartis account,” said Mickey McDermott, vice president of communications in North America for Novartis Animal Health, Inc.

The EPA said in a press release: “There has been a recent increase in the number of companies bringing unregistered pet products into the United States. Last year, EPA assessed a fine against a San Diego pet store for selling unregistered Advantage for Dogs and Advantage for Cats. Also, a Stop Sale Order was issued to a distributor for importing unregistered Advantage products from Mexico with Spanish labeling.”

On its Web site, the EPA warns consumers to beware of counterfeit Frontline Top Spot, Frontline Plus and Advantage. Clues to counterfeit product include: writing in a language other than English; product volumes expressed in milliliters rather than ounces; packages not child resistant; instructions missing; and lot numbers on the cartons not matching lot numbers on applicators.

During six months in 2003 and 2004, U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized nearly 60,000 pieces of counterfeit Frontline and Advantage from China, according to agency spokeswoman Erlinda Byrd. The seizures happened on nine different occasions but were traced to a single importer, who claimed to have purchased the product in the United States, shipped it to China for repackaging into smaller quantities and returned it to the United States for distribution.

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