The media indicates to me that there is somewhat of an epidemic of opioid abuse in many US communities. In short, there’s an increased addiction to prescription painkillers. I think the same sort of trend is present in the UK.
I’d like to cross-reference that introduction with a news item that I have read today which tells me that some cat and dog owners are using prescriptions for their cats and dogs for their own use in order to increase their access to opioid painkillers.
Opioid painkillers are limited in terms of prescriptions for people. However, veterinarians can dispense whatever drugs they feel are appropriate for treating animals. And there is no limitation or restriction on the drugs that a veterinarian can write a prescription for.
Sometimes those prescriptions are opioid painkillers such as fentanyl and hydromorphone. Sometimes pet owners ask for the drug by name such as Tramadol, a powerful opioid painkiller. This should be a warning to veterinarians. I have even read that some cat and dog owners deliberately hurt their pets to get at these drugs. Some people are sick in the head.
It appears that the same client could go from one veterinarian to another presenting the same complaint regarding their cat or dog and receive the same medication from a veterinarian allowing a person to stockpile large doses of opioid painkillers, far more than he/she would ever be able to obtain from their general practitioner.
In addition, there appears to be the possibility that some of these drug prescriptions for cats and dogs are finding their way onto the street for resale. There would appear to be a need to introduce tighter controls on opioids at veterinary clinics.
A spin-off from this is that the cats and dogs are sometimes not getting their painkillers as prescribed. It could be argued that people who abuse opioids are not in the best position to be cat and dog caretakers/guardians.
Apparently, some veterinarians say that they take precautions by monitoring when pet owners come in to get prescriptions refilled. At one veterinary clinic, a veterinarian said that each of his five veterinarians write 3 to 4 opioid prescriptions a day on average. This particular veterinarian does not believe that the problem of diverting drugs for pets to humans is widespread. However, he does support tighter controls.
“I think there’s enough evidence now that there is enough abuse out there that it’s up to us to screen as well.” – Dr Eric Carnegy of the Carnegy Animal Hospital in Halifax.~