Today’s Veterinary Business Staff
New Jersey authorities are asking veterinarians to help fight the human opioid crisis by entering pet prescription information into a state database.
Recording a pet owner’s name and address when potentially addictive drugs such as hydrocodone and tramadol are dispensed would allow physicians and pharmacists to identify people who may be diverting pet medications to personal use.
“More and more people are taking advantage of a gap in our law that makes it easier to obtain opioids and other controlled dangerous substances from a veterinarian than from their own physicians,” said New Jersey Attorney General Christopher Porrino. “We’re asking veterinarians and pharmacists to help us close that gap and stop addictive pain medications from flowing through veterinarians onto the streets.”
The State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners in early October advised veterinarians to utilize the New Jersey Prescription Monitoring Program. The board recommended that practitioners record the animal’s name and date of birth and the owner’s name and address. Veterinarians can file a Suspicious Activity Report when they think a client may be misusing or diverting a pet’s medications.
Some drugs at the center of the human opioid epidemic, such as fentanyl and OxyContin (oxycodone), are tightly controlled in veterinary medicine. But other medications, like Xanax (alprazolam), Valium (diazepam), hydrocodone and tramadol, are commonly prescribed for pets.
Addicted pet owners have used nefarious means to obtain controlled drugs.
“There appears to be a rising trend in people using their pets, sometimes even deliberately injuring their pets, to obtain these restricted pain medications for themselves,” said Sharon Joyce, acting director of New Jersey’s Division of Consumer Affairs.
Pet owners who cross state lines to obtain or fill a prescription could run into trouble. New Jersey’s drug-monitoring database is shared with 14 other states.
Veterinary involvement in drug reporting is not new. According to a January 2017 article in JAVMA News, about one-third of states require veterinarians to report to state databases when they dispense controlled substances.