Until a few weeks ago, it had never occurred to me that I may have the option of getting my pet’s meds filled at a human pharmacy. That is, until I saw a news story on one of the national news channels warning of the consequences of doing so. I thought everyone did as I have done in the past with my pet’s prescriptions; walked out the door of my veterinarian’s office with meds in hand or as some pet owners prefer to do; order their pet meds online. Why would one choose to have pet meds filled at a human pharmacy, you ask? Cost. Some say you can get them at a human pharmacy for a price much more reasonable than what the vet will charge. I’m not convinced of that theory.
You may say transcription errors occur on human prescriptions as well, so what makes pet prescriptions any different. When pet prescriptions are filled in human pharmacies, problems can arise. Abbreviations are a common cause of errors because prescription shorthand taught in veterinary school is different than in medical school, thus increasing the odds for dosing errors. More often than not, a pet will take a smaller dose of the same human drug as we humans would take. Most often, the error occurs in dosing abbreviations. For instance, a bottle’s label may say to dispense 2 1/4 teaspoons which is a normal measurement for us humans but, in fact, the vet may have meant the dosage to be 2 1/4 cubic centimeters, which is much less medication.
Dr. Carmen Catizone with the National Association-Boards of Pharmacy says of pet owners; “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.” In these difficult economic times, we all are looking for ways to stretch our dollars. Living in a multiple pet home, I know all too well the expense involved for vet care and meds. However, let us not sacrifice our pets well-being for the sake of cost. I feel that leaving off that extra cup of Starbucks or a couple of evenings of dining out are better alternatives to budgeting than scrimping on meds for my two-legged family members.
If you choose to have your pets meds filled at a human pharmacy, do your due diligence. Make sure your veterinarian explains to you before you leave the office the name of the drug he is prescribing, the dosing amount, and the dosing frequency.