FDA Addiction Warning: Pet Owners May Abuse Veterinary Drugs

A kitten sleeps as it waits for adoption at CatCon in Pasadena
A kitten sleeps as it waits for adoption at CatCon in Pasadena, California, U.S. August 5, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson - RC127E8C3030
Lucy Nicholson REUTERS

Veterinarians frequently prescribe medication for pain management in pets. And now, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning reminding veterinarians how pet owners battling addiction may abuse those prescription drugs intended for their furry friends.

Health care providers—that is, those who care for humans—tend to have ample resources for identifying and blocking drug-seeking behaviors. The FDA’s new warning targets veterinary clinics, as this less-common access point is yet another way desperate people may seek out powerful opioids such hydrocodone or morphine. And just like physicians serving human patients, veterinarians must be licensed by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to prescribe opioids to their animal patients.

Along with the warning, the FDA also offered guidelines for maintaining the legal supply chain for certain in-demand prescription drugs, including reminders on how to safely store pain management drugs.

Drug overdose deaths in the United States are on the rise, with new data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) showing that nearly half of all accidental deaths may be the result of drug overdoses.

The ongoing opioid epidemic often leads to fatal overdoses. Earlier this year, a study showed that nearly half of overdose deaths were caused by the highly addictive synthetic opioid fentanyl.

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