Pharmacy Errors Can Harm Pets!
Story Date: 10/2/2015

 Pharmacy Errors Can Harm Pets!

Points to keep in mind when purchasing pet meds 

 1)    Each year, pharmacists dispense 3 billion prescriptions for human  patients across the US.  In more than 99% of cases, the medication and  dosing are done correctly and there is no problem.  Unfortunately, about  30 million dispensing errors occur annually.

2)    With increasing numbers of pet owners seeking to save money on pet  prescriptions at retail and online pharmacies, the chances for a pet  prescription mistake are also growing.

3)    Pharmacists are one of the most trusted professions in the US.   These professionals continually rank high when it comes to trust,  honesty and ethics.  And, like veterinarians, pharmacists are viewed as  compassionate and caring by the public.

4)    However, many news reports, and a survey of veterinarians in Oregon, have shown errors in dispensing pet medications seem to be on the rise.  The survey done by the Oregon Veterinary Medical Association  (OVMA) found that 1/3 of veterinarians surveyed reported changes to their original prescriptions when filled at retail or online pharmacies.

5)    Thankfully, most prescriptions for our pets are done correctly.   But, when medications are changed, dosages altered or generics  substituted, problems are likely to happen.

6)    In a highly publicized case from California, an 8 year old  Labrador was euthanized after being given 4 times the normal dose of his  medication.  The pharmacy changed the veterinarians dose of 2.5 ccs to  2.5 teaspoons.

7)    In other cases, insulin brands were changed, antibiotics were  substituted for chemotherapy drugs and dosing instructions for  anti-seizure and thyroid medications were altered.  All of these  mistakes led to serious issues for the patients.

8)    Generally, veterinarians and pharmacists will work closely to meet  the needs of the client and the pet.  But, it’s bad news when a  pharmacy steps beyond its scope of practice and makes adjustments or determines a new course of action without consulting with the prescribing veterinarian.

9)    The US FDA is now concerned as well.  In a 2012 Consumer Update,  the FDA encourages pet owners to be diligent in asking questions,  especially if the prescription instructions or medication appears to be  different from what they had received prior.

10)    Everyone from pharmacists and veterinarians to the national board  of pharmacy and the FDA are taking these concerns seriously.  Experts  state that pet owners should be focused on whether or not the retail or  online pharmacist is knowledgeable in the area of veterinary  medications.  Whether the price is cheaper or not should be a secondary  concern.

11)    If your pharmacist suggests changing a drug or dose for your pet,  it’s important that the pet owner ask the pharmacist to contact the  pets’ veterinarian.  Likewise, if you have received medications that  appear different or if the dose appears changed, do not give the drug.

12)    Be familiar with your pet’s regular medications and take time to  review any written prescription.  If what you receive doesn’t match your  expectations, do not give the drug and contact your veterinarian.

13)    The important thing to remember is that both your veterinarian and your local pharmacist want to do what’s best for you and your pet. 





NC Veterinary Medical Association
1611 Jones Franklin Road, Suite 108
Raleigh, NC 27606-3376
Tel: (800) 446-2862 / (919) 851-5850
Fax: (919) 851-5859
Email: ncvma96@ncvma.org