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Consumer Watchdog Group Sues EPA To Get Access Documents Regarding Seresto Flea Collar Problems

A recently filed lawsuit seeks to force federal regulators to turn over tens of thousands of incident reports involving problems with Seresto flea and tick collars, which have been linked to thousands of pet deaths and illnesses.

The Center for Biological Diversity filed the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) complaint (PDF) last week in federal court in D.C., demanding the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) share more information about reports of pet poisoning linked to the flea and tick collars, which the Center originally requested in August 2020.

Seresto pet collars are designed to release small amounts of pesticide onto the skin of cats and dogs for months at a time; to kill fleas, ticks and other pests. However, a report published last month raised serious concerns about problems associated with the products, disclosing for the first time that more than 75,000 adverse health reactions have been reported to federal regulators among pets, as well as humans who came into contact with Seresto flea and tick collars, including nearly 1,700 pet deaths.

In a press release, the Center for Biological Diversity indicates the EPA acknowledged its request, and initially said it would turn over the reports by September 28, 2020. However, the press releases that, as of April 13, it has not received a single document from the agency.

“It shouldn’t take a lawsuit to get the EPA to release public documents that could shed light on the deaths of over a thousand family pets,” Lori Ann Burd, director of the Center’s environmental health program, said in the press release. “It’s inexcusable that the agency charged with regulating this pesticidal collar has not only refused to hand over public documents but has also refused to even take the basic measure of warning the public that it has received over 75,000 reports of it causing harm and even death.”

The lawsuit accuses the EPA of unlawfully withholding the documents, which the center says do not fall under any valid disclosure exemption. It alleges the EPA is in violation of several FOIA statutory mandates.

In March, the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy launched a probe into the sales and marketing practices of Elanco Animal Health, Inc., the manufacturer, following the revelations of mass incident reports, illnesses and pet deaths. The committee also requested the company turn over the incident reports, raising concerns that the actual number of incidents may be much larger, and that Elanco may have not turned all of them over to the EPA.

Last week, on April 8, the Center filed a legal petition (PDF) with the EPA, calling it to cancel the registration of the Seresto flea and tick collars.

In addition, Elanco faces a growing number of individual and class action Seresto flea and tick collar lawsuits, each involving similar allegations that pets were seriously injured or died due to health problems linked to pesticide exposure.

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