According to DVM 360, veterinarians in Pennsylvania may be required to provide pet owners better documentation about medication uses, dosages
and contraindications if drugs are administered outside of the veterinary hospital.
Bill 768, introduced in March, would mandate that veterinarians provide
clients with information sheets from the U.S.
Food and Drug Administration that explain product information and
possible adverse events associated with a prescribed medication.
If this means better communication even mandated communication before clients can purchase veterinary drugs online, or at places like Costco, I am all for it. I am not sure what this bill means, exactly...However, I am concerned that with so many flea/tick products and drugs available through other channels aside from veterinary clincis - the following has begun to happen:
- People are purchasing products which may not be right for their pets' lifestyles (flea and tick products, in particular), or for the combination of types of pets in the home.Some pets (for example pregnant pets, pets with seizure histories or other medical conditions, or who are taking anti anxiety medications) should not be taking certain flea or tick products.
- People may be purchasing products they do not need.
- The assumption that purchasing online, or at a retail store is less expensive than through veterinarians could be correct, but it's certainly not always true (particularly if you need to pay for shipping).
- Purchasing online from some online outlets can be 'iffy.' You really don't know the product (particularly drugs) you purchased were stored at the right temperature and/or lighting conditions, if the expiration dates are correct; and there are even some counterfeit products out there. If you purchase in this manner and have an issue, the pharmaceutical company may not be able to help you medically with your pet and certainly will not reimburse you.
- Missing veterinary visits as a result of feeling, 'Why go to the vet" may be very detrimental on several levels. My recommendation (and that of many) is twice annual exams. Pets age much faster than people, and these wellness exams are how veterinarians routinely catch illness (this is true in dogs, and even more significant in cats who hide illness).
Here's just one example: If the complaint is, 'my dog or cat is scratching,' and you find fleas - great you are now using a flea product. However, the flea allergy dermatitis first needs to be confirmed, and second treated appropriately. Just buying the flea product alone isn't the only answer.
And by not visiting the veterinarian - wow, the list is long....A cat might have lost 1/2 lb. which may not be significant, but might be?
Even if your think you know your pet perfectly, can you do blood work at home? Diabetes in cats can be found early, or kidney disease, and the list is a VERY long one. By ready erroneous information on the Internet some have now begun to under-vaccinate pets (this is an issue for individual pets as well as community health).
Disease discovered by you, eventually, way later on....means a greater expense to you and needless suffering for your pet to endure. And sometimes early diagnosis is a matter of life and death.
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After purchasing a medication
for people, the potential adverse reactions, appropriate dosages and
drug contradictions are made known. So, I believe the same should be
true for our pets.
What complicates matters is that so many veterinary
products are used off-label, and this has been the case for decades.
There simply aren't corresponding veterinary drugs; they don't exist (or they aren't necessary in the first place since pets can respond the same as people).
Using products off-label is typically inexpensive for consumers, and also gives
veterinarians an opportunity to treat since as I mentioned there is unlikely to be an
approved veterinary product that even exists for many conditions, ranging from diarrhea to seizures. The drug used off label may be
as simple as an over-the-counter allergy medication that can be used for
pets as well as people (there's no formal prescription for that one)
to a drug called Flagyl (for upset stomach's) as only two of dozens of
Without being able to use drugs off label, the reality is that
our pets would suffer horribly. This relates because there's little
science on the adverse responses and potential interactions for these off-label drugs. Who would do these studies? The pharmaceutical companies aren't interested because generally only a small percent of their sales for these human products is spent on pets.
Veterinarians know many of these off-label drugs are generally safe because they've
been using them for so long.
I hope the proposed Pennsylvania law doesn't inhibit veterinarians from continuing the
use of off label drugs.