Doctor Shopping…at the Local Vet’s Office?

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The United States is in the midst of an opioid epidemic; each day, 91 people die of an opioid-related overdose. It has gotten so bad that some people are willing to do whatever it takes to get high – even taking medication that’s prescribed to their pets.

Newest Disturbing Trend

This “doggy doctor shopping” is a relatively new trend to hit the streets. Veterinarians are now being duped into writing prescriptions to “owners” who’ve intentionally and disgustingly abused or maimed their pets.

You’re probably wondering, how is something like this happening? Well, sadly much of the medication prescribed to animals can also be taken by humans – the only difference being dosage.

One such painkiller is Tramadol. It not only helps aid animals with arthritis and other ailments, it’s also the same drug prescribed to human patients to help alleviate their pain.

Substance abusers seek these drugs – and others – when they show up to vet offices demanding more medication, even though the initial prescription was received just days before.

A Swift Response From Officials

Although this form of doctor shopping is new, veterinarians and law officials are already aware of it and trying to combat its prevalence through outreach campaigns. Middlesex District Attorney Marian T. Ryan and Susan Curtis, executive director of the veterinarian’s association, are working proactively to educate veterinarians on identifying the red flags. These consist of clients attempting to fill prescriptions too soon or those who insist they can’t bring their pets in for an exam before getting the prescription. And it’s not just the pet owners veterinarians have to look out for. Oftentimes, addicted family members or friends are taking a pet’s medication.

Ryan and Curtis also are focused on the importance of educating veterinarians on how to properly dispose of medications. They believe that, since a pharmacy for humans gives patient information on how to store, consume and dispose of opioids, veterinarians should also do the same. The veterinarian’s association is working with Ryan’s office and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to create handouts with this pertinent information.

Finally, Curtis said a continuing education seminar will be offered for veterinarians and other stakeholders, including law enforcement officials, that will discuss the consequences of humans taking pet medications, in hopes this problem will soon be curtailed.

“This is very new, and very timely,” said Curtis. “We’re moving very quickly on it.”



Image Source: iStock

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