Send to

Choose Destination
Vet Parasitol. 1995 Sep;59(2):139-56.

Structure and activity of avermectins and milbemycins in animal health.

Author information

Merck Research Laboratories, Rahway, NJ 07065-0900, USA.


The avermectins and, to a lesser extent, the milbemycins, have revolutionized antiparasitic and antipest control over the last decade. Both avermectins and milbemycins have macrocyclic lactone structures that are superimposable, they are produced by the same genus of soil dwelling organisms, they have the same mode of action, they exert this action against the same nematode/acarine/insect spectrum of targets, and they show the same mechanism-based toxicity in mammals. Reports suggesting that milbemycins have a different mode of action from avermectins with implications that there will be no mutual resistance to the groups have been shown to be false. Contributing to the belief that there were differences in mode of action between the two groups are the vague definitions of resistance presently in use which rely on the ability of the parasite to survive treatment at the manufacturer's recommended use level. More appropriately, drug resistance should be defined as 'a change in gene frequency of a population, produced by drug selection, which renders the minimal, effective dosage previously used to kill a defined portion (e.g. 95%) of the population no longer equally effective'. This type of definition would allow us to detect changes in susceptibility of a population earlier and is essential when comparing different chemicals to determine if there is mutual resistance to them. It is concluded that much effort has been expended by pharmaceutical, government, and academic scientists searching for broad-spectrum second generation avermectin and milbemycin products, but none has exceeded the original avermectin in any fundamental way. The newer avermectin and milbemycin compounds that have appeared claim niches in the market place based on emphasis of certain narrow parts of the overall spectrum. Consequently, there are no second generation avermectins and milbemycins at present and all newer compounds from this mode of action class are viewed as siblings of the first generation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center