A South African drug company, Aspen Pharmacare, has increased the price of a drug which treats Addison’s disease by 1900%. The drug is also used to treat humans.
This massive, overnight, increase has jeopardised the lives of dogs and cats because many pet owners suddenly faced crippling healthcare bills for their animal companions. They feared that they would have no choice but to have their companion animals euthanised.
It should be said, by the way, that Addison’s disease (feline hypoadrenocorticism) is far more common in dogs than cats and quite rare in cats. It is a disease which affects the adrenal glands. The drug referred to is fludrocortisone.
It is said that, coincidentally, another company provided an alternative drug by injection at the same time that this massive price rise took place. The alternative drug, however, has created many problems because veterinarians were unsure as to the amount to be administered. This has caused serious side-effects in dogs such as incontinence and an inability to walk.
Aspen Pharmacare justified the massive increase in cost by saying that they have improved the tablet by making it “heat-stable” which means that there is no longer a requirement to keep the drug in cold storage. This, to me, sounds like a false justification. It simply does not ring true.
But for the alternative drug which as mentioned has caused many problems it is said that thousands of dogs might have been put to sleep because of the very high cost of fludrocortisone.
Aspen Pharmacare said that veterinary use of the drug was not within their control.
As to pet insurance, many of the cat and dog owners concerned have exhausted their policies. They therefore had to face the increased cost themselves which was untenable.
For me, being a person who does not like big business, the behaviour of Aspen Pharmacare is not dissimilar to the behaviour of many of the pet food manufacturers both of which can demonstrate an insensitivity towards the health and welfare of domestic animal companions.
The source of this cat news story is the Times newspaper of Saturday, May 20, 2017.