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pet care

An "unusually high number" of allergic reaction reports has prompted the distributor of a type of penicillin for animals to pull it from the market. Health Canada announced a recall Monday of Longisil, distributed by Lavaltrie, Que.-based Vétoquinol N.-A. Inc., after receiving numerous reports of reactions.

Longisil is administered by injection and treats infections in various animals, including dogs, cats and livestock.

The recall is an expansion of an earlier one, initiated in December, involving one batch of medication distributed in various vial sizes. The new recall involves a different batch, raising questions over whether problems with the medication are more wide-reaching than the company first believed.

In December, Health Canada said it had received 14 reports of dogs developing swelling and hives soon after being injected with the medication, as well as one possible report involving a cat. This week, Health Canada said it had received an additional 12 reports of reactions in dogs and one reaction in a cat involving a different lot of medication, which prompted the recall.

Pierre Gadbois, director of scientific affairs at Vétoquinol, said most of the animals recovered well, but that one cat, which had been given the medication in addition to anesthesia during surgery, died. The medication did not seem to cause any allergic reactions in cattle or other livestock.

The company is investigating the cause of the reactions to see whether the issue is isolated or if it's a sign of a bigger manufacturing issue, Mr. Gadbois said. He declined to name the company that actually manufactures Longisil on its behalf, saying the information is a confidential part of their business practices.

The number of adverse reactions reported to Health Canada is often a small fraction of actual cases. Many experts estimate only 10 per cent of adverse reactions are ever reported.

Health Canada only receives a few hundred reports a year of adverse reactions involving animals. In 2008, the department received 614 reports; in 2009 it was 665 reports.

Drug companies are required to inform Health Canada of suspected problems with their products. But there are no similar requirements for veterinarians, which helps explain why a large number of adverse reactions go unreported.