Follow Safeguards When Dispensing Controlled Substances for Pets

You'll hear concerns about people misusing or diverting controlled substance Rxs (alprazolam, tramadol, etc) prescribed for their pets.

In fact, there are reports of pet owners "vet shopping"...or injuring their four-legged friends to get opioids or benzodiazepines.

There's even an older case of a pet owner teaching a dog to cough on obtain a hydrocodone-containing cough syrup.

Stay alert for red flags...multiple vet prescribers, several pets getting controlled Rxs, owners prescribed the same Rx, lost meds, etc.

Be familiar with your college's bylaws. Some colleges require pharmacies or vets to report prescriptions for pets to the Rx drug monitoring program.

And meds for pets may be linked or added directly to the pet OWNER's record.

Ensure the animal's profile is set up according to your pharmacy's policy.

For example, you may need to add "dog" or "cat" to the animal's name...use a "species code"...or enter the owner's birthdate for the pet.

Watch doses closely. Some doses are higher for animals...since they often metabolize and eliminate drugs differently than we do.

For instance, dogs may need double the human dose of immediate-release tramadol.

Manually review an animal's med history for early refills. Some systems won't check for "refill too soon" rejects on pet Rxs.

Notify your pharmacist if you have any they can reach out to the veterinarian if needed.

Encourage owners to store their pet's Rxs in a secure place and dispose of them meds don't get into the wrong hands.

Learn more about preventing opioid misuse and abuse in our CE, The Technician's Role in Opioid Management in the Community Pharmacy Setting.

Key References

  • JAMA Netw Open 2019;2(1):e186950
  • Am J Public Health 2018;108(9):1162-3
Pharmacy Technician's Letter Canada. Apr 2019, No. 350410

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