The FDA is tackling the opioid epidemic on all fronts, including the prevention of new addictions by ensuring appropriate prescriptions. The fight includes veterinary clinics in which opioid prescriptions for pets may be used and abused by the pet owners and even staff.

Opioid For Pets

Just this month, a study described how some veterinarians suspect that some pet owners may be harming or making their pets ill on purpose just so they can have opioid prescriptions. The same research also found that 45 percent of the veterinarians involved knew of a staff member who was abusing or illicitly distributing the drugs.

In this regard, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb M.D. released a statement on the agency’s recognition of veterinary clinics as an important front in fighting the epidemic, as well as announced the release of new resources specifically for veterinarians who administer opioids.

So far, the only FDA-approved opioid for animals is not being marketed by the manufacturer, while Carfentanil is no longer approved for use in animals. Because of the ongoing opioid epidemic, more and more manufacturers are avoiding the marketing of such products to avoid the misuse and abuse by its users. Unfortunately, this also affects animals, as it also leaves them with little to no option for pain management, and veterinarians are left having to prescribe them with medications originally intended for humans.

New Resources For Veterinarians

As such, the FDA reminds veterinarians to follow state and federal laws in regard to opioid storage and prescription for animals. Further, veterinarians are also recommended to look into alternative pain management medications instead of opioids and to educate pet owners when it comes to the proper use, storage, and disposal of opioids. The new resources also include information on opioid abuse, how to spot opioid overdoses in pets, proper disposal of unused drugs, access to federal opioid training, and how to keep opioids in a veterinary clinic safe.

Veterinarians are also recommended to develop safety plans in regard to clients who are seeking opioids on the pretense of getting them for pets and are also given tips on how to spot the signs of a potential opioid abuser, whether it is a client or an employee. Such signs in clients may include injuries on a pet or when a client is asking for a specific medication by name, asking for a refill on supposedly lost or stolen medications, and when the client is rather insistent on their requests.

In employees, some signs that they may have an opioid abuse problem are mental confusion, mood swings, depression, inability to concentrate, not showing up for work, and making frequent mistakes at work.

“As medical professionals, veterinarians have an opportunity to partner with the FDA and others to take on this public health crisis,” said Gottlieb in a statement, reiterating the agency’s commitment to continue to support medical professionals when it comes to fighting the opioid epidemic.

“We remain steadfast in continuing to identify opportunities to bolster our support for the health care community.”

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