On Your Side
New FDA warning about pet medication mistakes
The FDA just issued a new warning because investigators are finding prescription mistakes happening with pet prescriptions. On Your Side's Vince Vitrano shows how to keep your dog or cat safe. Video by tmj4.comvideo
Mistakes can happen, but in the case of our pets and their health, there's little room for error. All Sarah Schuck has left of her beloved 8-year-old labrador, Rafter, is a collar, pictures, and fond memories.
"It was really hard," she recalls.
Hard, because it shouldn't have happened. Sarah says the drug store that filled Rafter's prescription made an error. His prescription bottle label said to give Rafter '2 1/4 teaspoons'. Problem was, Sarah says, the dosage her vet called into the pharmacy was for much less medication: '2 1/4 cc's'.
The overdose, combined with Rafter's health problems, was too much, and she says she had to put him to sleep. Just days after Rafter's death, the fda issued a warning about a pattern of pet prescription mistakes. FDA investigators discovered errors stemming from simple issues like:
-Drugs with similar names
-Simple penmanship errors
Dr. Howard Silberman is a veterinarian. He warns, "The consequences can be completely devastating."
That's why Dr. Silberman takes prescription precautions at his office. All medications and dosages are typed into a computer, only vets or vet techs fill prescriptions, and pet's pictures are printed on the label so there's no mix up's.
The FDA says while mistakes happen at vet-based pharmacies, when pet prescriptions are filled in 'human pharmacies', like in Rafter's case, different systems may be to blame. The FDA says 'Abbreviations are a common cause of errors' because prescription shorthand taught in veterinary schools is different than in medical schools. Some pharmacists may not be as familiar with vet abbreviations.
Carmen Catizone of the National Association Boards of Pharmacy explains, "Currently most of the pharmacy curriculums don't touch upon vet medicine."
Pharmacy insiders say if pet owners shop around to find the lowest cost on pet meds, they need to do their research.
"Their primary concern should always be whether or not that pharmacist is knowledgeable in the area of veterinary medications; price should be a secondary consideration," Catizone urges.
How can you avoid a pet prescription mix up? The American Veterinary Medical Association says communication is key. Make sure the pharmacist speaks to your vet if there are any questions.
The FDA advises you should verify with your vet the name and dosage of your pet's drug.
Sarah hopes Rafter's legacy lives on to help other pet owners avoid medication mistakes. She says, "Don't be afraid to ask questions."
FDA investigators also found pet medication errors stemmed from pet owners misinterpreting labels and accidentally giving pets human drugs.