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Painkiller prescriptions for pets may be contributing to opioid epidemic, study warns



Americans could take pain medication prescribed for Fido and Fluffy. This is according to new research that warns the rise of prescription opioids for pets that might play a role in the US drug epidemic.

The first study of its kind, published on the JAMA Network Open, notes that the increase in opioid prescriptions for people in the last decade parallel an increase in similar prescriptions for pets and that some of these pet medicines could end up in the wrong hands.

Researchers analyzed information on all opioid pills and patches dispensed or prescribed for dogs, cats, and other small animals at the School of Veterinary Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania (Penn Vet) from January 2007 to December 201

7. [19659003] During that time, while the number of visits increased by only 13% the year, the number of opioids prescriptions increased by 41%.

"While we are witnessing the spread of the opioid epidemic, we are identifying other routes of consumption and misuse of man," said study author Jeanmarie Perrone, MD, professor of medicine of urgency and director of medical toxicology at Penn Medicine. . "Although the prescribed veterinary opioid increase is well understood by the vet, it may mean an increased likelihood that the remaining pills will be abused by family members, sold or hijacked or endangered young children through the unintentional exposure. "

the current opioid crisis in the United States has had devastating consequences. The misuse of prescription and illicit opioids has caused nearly 400,000 deaths from drug overdoses from 1999 to 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The number of overdose deaths involving opioids was 6 times higher in 2017 than in 1999.

Perrone notes that at present there are no data on how many people can abuse opioids prescribed for animals domestic, but believes that there is reason for concern.

"It could be a very small number but we are definitely concerned about the remaining pills that lead to abuse by teenagers or involuntary exposures to young children ," he told CBS News. "We know that advanced opioids have been a major driver of the opioid crisis, wherever they have been abandoned."

And the researchers warn that since the prescription of opiates in veterinary medicine is not regulated as heavily as the medical prescriptions for humans, it is possible that abused veterinary prescriptions may contribute to the ongoing opiate epidemic.

Anecdotes about veterinarians prescribed opioids used by people have already spurred some states to act. Maine and Colorado, for example, now require background checks on pet owners' opioid prescription stories before a veterinarian can write an opioid prescription for an animal. Alaska, Connecticut and Virginia limit the number of opioids that a veterinarian can prescribe to an individual patient. And 20 states now require veterinarians to report their opioid prescriptions to a central database, just like doctors do for people.

Perrone says that efforts must be made to reduce the opioid prescriptions for pets, similar to the measures currently being implemented for people .

At Penn Vet, such measures include encouraging veterinarians to use local anesthetics instead of opioids for post-operative pain, using pain scores to guide opioid use and closer monitoring of long-term animals long-term use of opioids, such as dogs taking chronic hydrocodone for chronic cough

Pet owners are also instructed on how to safely dispose of the remaining pills that are not more necessary.

"This is one more opportunity to tackle safe storage, judicious prescribing and opioid alternatives in a different population," Perrone said.


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