Ashburn Farm Animal Hospital
Request for Comments and Announcement of Workshop on Pet Medications Issues, Project No. P121201
I am a veterinarian working in Northern Virginia who has also been a veterinary assistant and pet store sales associate. I have several concerns about the safety of pet prescriptions and products through non-veterinary channels. Several times I have had written prescriptions subsequently changed by well meaning pharmacists. For instance, they though there wasn't a meaningful difference between the steroids prednsiOLOne and predNISone. This may mean the difference between life and death for my feline cancer patients who can't metabolize predNISone and need it as chemotherapy. I have colleagues whose human pharmacies provided pets medications flavored with artificial sweeteners like Xylitol that are toxic for pets. I worry that right now, general pharmacists do not have the proper education in veterinary pharmacologics to prescribe these drugs and counsel pet owners safely. Additionally, I am concerned by the number of clients who are able to acquire prescription products without a prescription through online pharmacies, sometimes even through certified pharmacies like 1-800-PetMeds. Finally the wide availability of medications like Frontline and Advantix has resulted in a danger to my patients. Having been a pet store sales associate, I know those staff members usually don't have the time to completely explain these products and how to use them. Due to this lack of education, many of my clients believe Frontline protects against heartworms or accidentally use Advantix on their cat, both potentially fatal mistakes. While I am always happy to provide prescriptions for my patients, I still think the veterinarian is the safest person to discuss, provide, and prescribe many pet medications. Our patients lives may depend on it. In terms of pricing, I firmly believe that having these prescriptions widely available for pet owners is going to hurt pet owners financially. Right now veterinary clinics supplement their income with overhead from prescriptions. Recently, due to inroads from human pharmacies, veterinarians can simply no longer afford to carry certain medications and increase the cost of their services to make up the difference. If this continues, pet owners will be inconvenienced by having to go elsewhere for prescriptions and will still be paying just as much for pet care. In the end, pets, their owners, and their pocketbooks will be worse off.