The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has launched an investigation into events involving the popular Seresto pet collar.
The EPA's inspector general is looking into how the agency handled the tens of thousands of reported incidences of injury associated to the Seresto flea-and-tick collar, according to a statement released on May 18.
In a letter to Michal Freedhoff, the assistant administrator of the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, the EPA Office of Inspector General said it plans to investigate whether the agency's response "provides assurance that the collars can still be used without posing unreasonable adverse effects to human health and the environment" and whether the EPA followed pesticide registration requirements in approving the popular Seresto collar.
Seresto has been the subject of at least 86,000 incident reports since it was licensed for use in 2012, including more than 2,300 complaints involving pet deaths.
The collar is safe, according to Keri McGrath Happe, a spokesman for the collar's manufacturer, Elanco Animal Health.
Elanco continues to unwaveringly support Seresto's safety profile as a proven treatment to help protect dogs and cats against fleas and ticks, she said. All agency review processes are supported by us.
An investigation by Investigate Midwest and USA TODAY in March 2021 revealed that the product had been linked to more than 75,000 incidents at the time, the most of any product in EPA history.
Following that article, a congressional subcommittee initiated an investigation into the collars, requesting that Elanco temporarily recall the collars, which are the company's best-selling product. Elanco has withdrawn.
The EPA has opened an official review of the product in response to a petition from the organization Center for Biological Diversity. After whistleblower charges of internal corruption, the EPA's Office of Pesticide Programs is also under investigation.
An investigation by Investigate Midwest/USA TODAY earlier this year found that EPA officials have been concerned for years that the agency's procedure for assessing events is defective, resulting in the use of items that are dangerous to pets and humans. According to EPA scientists, they were ordered not to send their concerns via email. The organization also stated that it has no procedure in place for investigating events.
Elanco has maintained his support for the collar. Since the product's launch in 2012, the business claims that the number of complaints has decreased. Elanco, which purchased the entire Bayer Animal Health unit, including Seresto, from the German pharmaceutical giant in 2020 for $7.6 billion, has said that its own extensive studies into the product show that the incidents of harm reported by pet owners are likely due to other factors rather than the collar itself.
Elanco did not respond to a request for comment right away. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) did not respond right away, either.
It's unclear when the inspector general will finish his investigation. According to the office, it is following an order from high EPA management to safeguard chemical safety.