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Pet Medication Shortages

pet-medication-shortagesDrug shortages are an increasing problem in both human and veterinary medicine.  In some cases, no good alternative exists as a replacement for the medication in question.  Even if an alternative is available, doctors are sometimes forced into prescribing drugs they are not familiar with, which can have potentially dangerous consequences for patients.

Two examples of particular concern for pet owners are Immiticide (the only drug licensed to treat heartworm infection in dogs) and Vetsulin (a type of insulin manufactured specifically for pets).  Hopefully, Immiticide production will resume again soon, but Vetsulin is permanently off of the market.  This means that many pets have had to switch to another type of insulin.  This process can be expensive, dangerous, and requires close monitoring.

Other drugs that are hard to come by include some types of chemotherapeutic agents, antibiotics, pain relievers, anesthetics, immunosuppressants, and antiviral drugs. Some staples such as the inject-able forms of atropine (used to keep an animal’s heart rate up during surgery), diazepam (used to treat seizures), and furosemide (a diuretic used to reduce fluid build-up in the body) are also in short supply.  The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) both provide lists of drug shortages on their websites.  Your veterinarian is another good source for information.

To help keep your pets safe, make sure to order pet medication refills well before they are needed.  This is a good habit to get into even in the absence of a drug shortage so that you are prepared for natural disasters, unexpected trips, etc.  Talk to your veterinarian about alternative suppliers and/or treatment options if one of your pet’s medications becomes difficult to find.

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