The manufacturer of HeartGard Plus, one of the more popular treatments for Heartworm in dogs, is being sued by a former employee. The employee, Kari Blaho-Owens, claims that she was fired following a sequence of events in which she refused to destroy documents which raised questions about the effectiveness of the product.
HeartGard Plus, which is also used to treat hookworms and roundworms, is a monthly chewable medication, manufactured by Merial LLC. It was approved for use in 1996 with a claim of 100% effectiveness. The lawsuit alleges that the company became aware of reduced efficacy as early as 2002, but chose to continue to make unsubstantiated claims.
Ms. Blaho-Owens was hired by Merial in 2006. The prior year, Merial had conducted an investigation on an “increase in the number of reported cases of the lack of efficacy of HeartGard”. The investigation was launched following repeated reports that the product was not performing as expected based on tests submitted for FDA approval.
In September 2009, Blaho-Owens was notified of a class-action suit against Merial regarding HeartGard. She was instructed to destroy a document in her possession that was relevant to the suit and was also instructed to stop generating any new analysis on the efficacy of Heartgard Plus.
Rather than destroying the document (the contents of which are not detailed in the lawsuit), Blaho-Owens did not destroy the document, but reported it request to Merial’s legal counsel. According to the current lawsuit, this began a chain of events which ultimately led to her dismissal.