Follow Safeguards When Dispensing Controlled Substances for Pets

You'll hear concerns about people misusing or diverting controlled substance Rxs (alprazolam, tramadol, etc) prescribed for their pets.

In fact, there are reports of pet owners "vet shopping"...or injuring their four-legged friends to get opioids or benzodiazepines.

There's even an older case of a pet owner teaching a dog to cough on cue...to obtain a hydrocodone-containing cough syrup.

Stay alert for red flags...multiple vet prescribers, several pets getting controlled Rxs, owners prescribed the same Rx, lost meds, etc.

Be familiar with your state laws. Some states require pharmacies or vets to report pet controlled substance Rxs to the Rx drug monitoring program (PDMP)...and these meds may be linked to the pet OWNER's record.

Ensure the animal's profile is set up according to your pharmacy's policy. For example, you may need to add "K9" or "feline" to the animal's name...use a "species code"...or enter the owner's birth date for the pet.

Watch doses closely. Some doses are higher for animals...since they often metabolize and eliminate drugs differently than we do. For example, dogs may need double the human dose of immediate-release tramadol.

Manually review an animal's med history for early refills. Many pet Rxs are cash...and won't have "refill too soon" payer rejects.

Notify your pharmacist if you have any concerns...so they can reach out to the veterinarian if needed.

Encourage owners to store their pet's Rxs in a secure place and dispose of them properly...so meds don't get into the wrong hands.

Learn more about pet meds, dosing, and administration in our special reports, Common Meds With Veterinary Applications and Preparing to Dispense Veterinary Rxs.

Key References

  • JAMA Netw Open 2019;2(1):e186950
  • Am J Public Health 2018;108(9):1162-3
  • www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm617007.htm
Pharmacy Technician's Letter. Apr 2019, No. 350410

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