APVMA's role

The APVMA is aware that high concentrations of pyrethroids (particularly permethrin) and to a lesser extent pyrethrins may be toxic to cats. There are no products registered for use on cats that contain high concentrations of pyrethroids or pyrethrins in Australia.

The APVMA has reviewed the use of permethrin-based products on cats and identified that the problem is related to inappropriate use of spot-on products on cats, when they were registered only for use on dogs.

There are no spot-on flea control products containing permethrin registered for use on cats in Australia. All registered products, including those registered for dogs, must have strong, clear warning statements as well as a cat prohibition icon incorporated into the label to ensure that cats are not exposed—deliberately or accidentally—to the product.

Similar measures have been taken by both the United States Environmental Protection Agency and Health Canada due to safety issues with spot-on products containing permethrin.

During this process, the APVMA considered whether products containing lower concentrations of permethrin or products containing other pyrethroids or pyrethrins should be placed under review. Based on the available toxicity data and adverse experience reports, we have determined that the risk to cats from lower concentrations of pyrethroids (including permethrin) or plant pyrethrins is low and no further regulatory action is currently required.

  • What is the APVMA adverse experience reporting program?
  • The Adverse Experience Reporting Program assesses reports of adverse experiences associated with registered veterinary and agricultural chemical products. Each report of an adverse experience is assessed and receives a classification regarding the relationship between the product and the adverse experience. The APVMA may take regulatory action if one or more reports are received per 10,000 doses of the product sold.
  • From 1995 to 2013, a total of 40 adverse experience reports that were classified as ‘possible’ or ‘probable’ were submitted following administration of pyrethrins to cats. Based on the very low number of adverse experience reports for pyrethrins when compared to the total number of doses sold, no regulatory action was required other than continuous monitoring for any future adverse experience reports.

How does the APVMA assess the toxicity of veterinary chemicals?

All veterinary chemicals registered for use in Australia have undergone a robust chemical risk assessment process. In making a decision to register a product the APVMA must be satisfied that it can be used safely, subject to the conditions of use outlined on the product label.

The APVMA considers not only the potential of a chemical to cause toxicity to the target animal, but also the amount of chemical that the animal is likely to be exposed to when the product is used according to the label directions.

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