PVMA Keystone Veterinarian Winter 2020 - 23

Veterinarians are ethically bound to
provide written prescriptions to clients
who request them by the AVMA's
Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics.6
Pharmacists are legally required to
verify the accuracy and validity of
each prescription and advise clients
on potential side effects and drug
interactions. This is easy for them to
do for human medications, where they
have the education and resources to
fulfill these requirements. Unfortunately,
pharmacists do not receive training
in veterinary pharmacology as part of
their core curriculum. Problems often
arise when there are large differences in
dosage or side effects between the same
drug in animals and humans due to this
lack of knowledge of species-specific
information.
While it is easy to say that the solution
is for pharmacists to have better
education and resources if they are
going to fill animal prescriptions, it is

hard to make this a reality. The AVMA
and National Association of Boards
of Pharmacy (NABP) have worked
together to increase awareness of the
problems for both veterinarians and
pharmacists and encourage the addition
of veterinary pharmacology education
to school curricula.7,8 The NABP has
also modified its model practice act to
include a requirement that a veterinary
drug reference be available in any
pharmacy where veterinary medications
are dispensed.8 To date, only a handful
of states have implemented this
recommendation. Pennsylvania is not one
of them.

How common are prescription
errors?
Since the Oregon Veterinary Medical
Association's (OVMA) 2012 survey on
prescription errors, the awareness
of serious medication errors has
increased in both the veterinary and
pharmacy communities. Thirty-five
percent of veterinarians who responded

had experienced changes in their
prescriptions by pharmacists, and 17%
of respondents reported serious adverse
events in their patients.9,10
There are multiple types of potential
errors that can be seen when prescription
medications are filled at retail
pharmacies. The OVMA report included
cases of incorrect medication being filled,
dosage changes and client counseling of
side effects not applicable to veterinary
patients.10 Additionally, veterinarians may
experience cases where pharmacists have
made inappropriate recommendations
of OTC medications or changes in insulin
type to a client.
These errors can lead to side effects
from overdosage or poor response to
therapy in cases of underdosages, which
may ultimately cost the client additional
time and money. Some errors may even
result in patient death, either due to
the drug itself or euthanasia from poor
response to treatment or progression of
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PVMA Keystone Veterinarian Winter 2020

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