How to Detect Counterfeit Frontline Plus for Cats

Updated July 20, 2017

As of January 2011, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency continues to issue stop-sale and removal orders to retailers of counterfeit and nonapproved Frontline Plus and other topical pesticides. The agency notes that "use of the counterfeit products may put the treated pet at risk." Since its creation in 1970, the EPA has worked to ensure that all pet products on sale contain only approved ingredients. The agency approved Merial's Frontline Plus for cats, which claims to kill 99 per cent of ticks and fleas within 48 hours, in 2000.

Check the package colour. Authentic EPA-approved Frontline Plus cartons are white and grey-blue. The front of the carton shows a grey cat lying down. Counterfeit or non-EPA-approved Frontline Plus packaging may come in a similar colour, but the cat on the front is a tabby. It may also come in a green-and-white carton with a brown-and-cream cat on the front.

Look carefully at the package labelling. Authentic Frontline labels read "Frontline Plus." Counterfeit packages will read "Frontline Combo Spot On."

Read the package text carefully. EPA-approved Frontline Plus' packaging states that the product "kills fleas, flea eggs and ticks." It also states that the product protects against Lyme disease and is safe for adult cats and kittens older than eight weeks. Counterfeit packaging states that the product "eliminates fleas, ticks and biting lice." Some don't provide cautionary warnings. Those that do put them at the top of the box rather than in the lower left-hand corner, don't mention Lyme disease or don't indicate that the product is safe for kittens of a certain age.

Check that the text states the number of "applicators" inside the box and that it says the product is "waterproof." Counterfeit and nonapproved products give the number of "pipettes" and describe the product as "waterfast."

Check that the box lists both the active and inactive ingredients and their percentages. Nonapproved products will only list the two main active ingredients.

Ascertain whether the box has printed instructions on how to open the carton, as authentic products do. Non-EPA-approved and counterfeit cartons also do not include directions for use, emergency contact numbers, safety precautions, or storage and disposal procedures.

Check that the relevant EPA registration number is on the back of the carton and that it includes the correct product name -- Frontline Plus for Cats, EPA Reg. No. 65331-4.

Open the box to determine that the protective inserts for the applicators inside taper at the top and provide an illustration on how to open the insert. Counterfeit Frontline Plus applicators come in rectangular protective inserts with a series of orange horizontal lines printed across the back with the words "Usage Veterinaire." Check that the lot number on the carton corresponds to the one on the reverse of the inserts inside the box.

Verify the product's authenticity by noting that the writing on the back of the applicator is in black, reads neck to bottom and shows the volume in fluid ounces. Counterfeit applicators have red text on the reverse and read bottom to neck. The volume is in millilitres.


Always buy from your veterinary practitioner. If you purchase via the Internet, check with the seller that you are buying an EPA-approved product. If living outside the U.S., consult your local veterinary practitioner as local regulations apply. If someone sells you an illegal, counterfeit or substandard product, notify the retailer and the EPA complaints website (see Resources).

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About the Author

Samantha Gannon has been a full-time features journalist since 2007, promoted to editor in 2010. Her work appears in the "The Brit" and she has had articles published in "Easier," "EasyJet," "The Madeira Times" and the "Anglican News." She has studied with The Writers Bureau, Manchester, U.K., concentrating on human interest, environmental and domestic science subjects.