Fake or counterfeit veterinary products are known to be circulating around the world and vets have been seeing the adverse impacts of these on their patients. Pet owners are visiting their vet when they notice that prescribed flea and tick treatments aren’t working or in some cases, patients have become severely unwell due to unknown ingredients of some of these fake products.
Overseas online retailers have recently been illegally distributing counterfeit unregistered products to unknowing pet owners. Fake flea and tick collars and topical products have been notably discovered across the UK, US and are now known to be in Australian.
An Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (or APVMA) approval number (formally known as an NRA number) is a legal registration number applied to all lawful veterinary or agricultural products sold in Australia. This applies to all chemical veterinary and agricultural retail products sold through individuals or companies. It is the responsibility of retailers to obtain APVMA registration. Not adhering to registration and approval is a considerable offence and those in breach of these codes may face heavy prohibitive penalties.
This number is typically found on the back panel of packaging, toward the bottom. Look for:
- Product number
- Pack size/species identification
- Content specification
If a product label does not contain an APVMA or NRA approval number, the product may be a counterfeit product and is likely not registered. You can check and search approved products here.
How to spot a fake product
- Is the packaging current?
- Does it have APVMA approval registration number on the back?
- Is the packaging childproofed?
- Are there product name discrepancies or inconsistencies?
- Is each individual packet within the box identical?
- Directions for correct use may be missing
Should I notify anyone if I have purchased a fake product?
Yes, notify the merchant or store staff from whom you purchased the product.
Is there a penalty for purchasing a fake product?
There is no penalty for consumers unknowingly purchasing counterfeit products. Penalties are applied to distributers of counterfeit animal products.
Why should I buy authentic pet products?
It is vital to purchase authentic products for many reasons, primarily for the health, safety and wellbeing of you and your pets:
- Authentic products have undergone rigorous testing and approvals to become available on the market.
- Counterfeit products could be ineffective or even harmful to your pet.
- It is prohibited to import products that contain unregistered chemical active constituents into Australia.
More detailed information pertaining to the prescribed content of correct and compliant product labels that meet legislative requirements can be found at the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority website.
If you think you have purchased or are in possession of a counterfeit veterinary product, please find information here on how to correctly report this incident, and contact your veterinarian immediately.