With the reintroduction of Sentinel, Novartis also announced last week that it would stop manufacturing the heartworm drug Interceptor Flavor Tabs.
Jim Blacka, DVM, the global director of professional services at Novartis Animal Health U.S. Inc., apologized for the manufacturing stoppage, which followed numerous quality-control problems that have since been corrected.
"Know that you have our most sincere apologies for the supply interruption to your practice and your clients,” Dr. Blacka told veterinarians in a video announcement. "We’ll work hard to regain your trust and confidence.”
The new pricing is not temporary, Blacka said.
"This is not just an introductory or special-offer price point,” he noted. "These new prices are here to stay.”
The elimination of Interceptor will be offset by the reappearance of Sentinel, Blacka said.
"Sentinel Flavored Tabs provide the same exceptional protection against heartworm and intestinal parasites plus fleas, all at a price similar to Interceptor,” he said. "I hope that you will agree the return of Sentinel Flavor Tabs at this pricing establishes a new standard of care for your practice.”
Sentinel (milbemycin oxime, lufenuron) and Interceptor (milbemycin oxime) were not the only animal drugs produced in Lincoln. The shutdown also affected the supply of Program Flavor Tabs and Suspension, a flea medication; Milbemite, a feline ear mite treatment; the canine osteoarthritis drug Deramaxx; and the canine anxiety drug Clomicalm.
Novartis updated veterinarians in February, stating that the company was slowly restarting the drug-making process in Lincoln through the manufacture of validation batches.
"We’re taking the necessary time to validate the new processes for these lines to ensure control and adherence to a high standard of quality,” the company stated. "While we continue to make progress, the restart is taking longer than originally anticipated.”
The action came nearly two years after Novartis shut the plant, which also produced human medications such as Excedrin and Bufferin, following reports of broken pills and wrong dosages showing up in drug bottles.
The company repeatedly described the shutdown as temporary and acknowledged that pet owners may turn to competitors’ products.
"We recommend that you work closely with your veterinarian to determine the best health care needs of your dog during this temporary situation,” Novartis said in February.
The company attempted to manage shortages through the careful release of Sentinel and Interceptor from warehouses. Supplies eventually dried up as the production break dragged on.