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UPDATE 2-Elanco says flea, tick collars safe amid pressure to recall product

(Adds details from Elanco statement, background)

March 19 (Reuters) - Elanco Animal Health Inc said on Friday it was backing the safety of its popular pet collars to repel flea and ticks after a Congressional subcommittee asked for the product to be recalled following reports linking it to hundreds of pet deaths.

No market action is warranted and media reports on hundreds of deaths among pets are based on “raw data”, the maker of pet medicines and products said in a statement.

USA Today and Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting earlier this month reported 1,698 related pet deaths linked to the collars since 2012, citing documents by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). (bit.ly/3qZ3h33)

“Thorough investigation of available data has shown no established link between exposure to the active ingredients in Seresto and pet deaths,” said Tony Rumschlag, senior director for technical consultants at Elanco.

The EPA did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

The chair of the House Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy sent a letter to Elanco on Thursday, asking the company to temporarily recall the collars and issue full customer refunds.

The letter said the committee believed the actual number of deaths and injuries could be much higher since consumers might not know that these events should be reported to the EPA, which needs to register such complaints since the collars contain pesticides.

Elanco said the reported rate of adverse events in the United States was 0.3%, based on more than 25 million Seresto collars sold since 2012.

The company acquired Seresto through its deal for Bayer’s animal health business last year.

Seresto generated $64 million in sales in the fourth quarter, accounting for about 1.4% of Elanco’s total sales. (Reporting by Manas Mishra in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri and Anil D’Silva)

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