Magazine article Drug Topics

Pharmacists and Veterinarians Building Quiet Relationship

Magazine article Drug Topics

Pharmacists and Veterinarians Building Quiet Relationship

Article excerpt

Most of the medications dispensed by retail pharmacies are intended for people. But, on a regular basis, pharmacists handle prescriptions for patients that are not human.

Most medications for animals will probably always be dispensed by veterinarians, who usually stock a wide range of the veterinary medications they use on a regular basis. Despite this, veterinary Rxs are fairly frequently carried into pharmacies by pet or livestock owners.

In most cases, when a veterinarian writes or calls in a prescription to a pharmacy, it is because he or she does not stock or has run out of a given drug. Evan Kanouse, D.V.M., a veterinarian at the Brook Farm Veterinary Center in Patterson, N.Y., said that he writes or calls in about three prescriptions a day to local pharmacies. His center specializes in small animals, primarily cats and dogs. "We dispense about 90% of what we recommend." He commonly writes Rxs for Control IV drugs such as diazepam, which he chooses not to stock because of the paperwork involved.

Another reason veterinary prescriptions come into pharmacies is compounding. Requests for compounding are not uncommon, said Stephen Sundlof, D.V.M., Ph.D., director of the Center for Veterinary Medicine at the Food & Drug Administration. Most pharmacists must use drugs for humans when filling prescriptions for animals, and many of these drugs are not available in strengths suitable for either very small or very large animals, he noted.

Prescriptions for cats may need to be compounded to put them into a palatable vehicle for the cats, Sundlof said. Since it can be very difficult to give a pill to a cat, medications are frequently compounded into a fish- or meat-flavored liquid, he noted.

Compounding can make an ungainly prescription easier to handle, said Dinah Jordan, R.Ph., chief of the pharmacy service and assistant clinical professor at Mississippi State University School of Veterinary Medicine in Starkville. Large animals such as horses might need 30 to 90 human-sized capsules a day of erythromycin, she said. She recently had to dispense a prescription of 100 capsules of metronidazole per day for a horse, a prescription size that can temporarily wipe out a pharmacy's stock. Compounding is also necessary for prescriptions for birds or for exotic animals, such as reptiles and small mammals, as well as for ophthalmic preparations, she added.

Because the average pharmacy usually stocks drugs approved for humans, any veterinary use of such drugs is extra-label, Jordan said. It may be against standards to use a nonveterinary version of a drug for an animal if a veterinary version is available, but this is a gray area, she noted.

Although a medication may be identical for humans and animals, dosages may vary and may not correspond on a weight-for-weight basis with those for humans, Sundlof warned. …

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