Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Pharmacy Mistakes Can Harm Our Pets

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Both veterinarians and pharmacists enjoy a good reputation with the public.  Both professions are considered honest, caring and compassionate.  But, Sleuth has found out the both groups are concerned about increasing reports of pharmacy mistakes when it comes to our pets and he asked the Veterinary News Network to look into the issue.

1)    News headlines that describe pets dying or being euthanized because of dosing error or medication changes or horrifying.  Sadly, as pet owners look to retail or online pharmacy outlets, these reports seem to be more common.

2)    A recent survey in Oregon showed that 1/3 of veterinarians surveyed have encountered instances where their prescriptions were altered in some way.  Thankfully, most prescriptions were dispensed correctly and most of those that had changes did not cause a problem.

3)    But, in some cases, drug types were changed.  For example, a pet needing the chemotherapy drug, azathioprene was actually dispensed azithromycin, an antibiotic.  In other cases, doses were changed, causing severe distress and occasionally the death of the pet.

4)    Both veterinary and pharmacy groups, as well as the FDA, are very concerned about this.  Differences in how veterinarians and pharmacists are taught dosing abbreviations is part of the problem, but transcription errors and product selection mistakes also play a role.

5)    In addition, many pharmacists are not trained in the physiologic differences between people and pets, or even between the various species of our companion animals.  This can lead to errors as a pharmacist might try to extrapolate human doses for pets.

6)    Pet owners who seek to have their petís medication prescriptions filled at a local retail or an online pharmacy should ask questions of the pharmacist.  Ask if any changes were made and, if the pharmacist did make changes or wants to, ask him to call your veterinarian.

7)    Be familiar with your petís medications.  If the dosing doesnít look right or if the medication looks different, stop and donít give the drug.  Contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.

8)    Overall, both your veterinarian and  your local pharmacist will have your petís best interest at heart.  Itís only when a pharmacy steps outside their scope of practice that we tend to see issues.

9)    Sites like can provide you with accurate and unbiased pet health information.