Opioid Epidemic and Pets

Photo by Piron Guillaume on Unsplash

The Opioid Crisis currently affecting the United States is nothing new, but did you know that it is affecting your pets as well?

According to a March 15, 2018  article by Casey Ross published on statnews.com, “Production of injectable opioids has nearly ground to a halt due to manufacturing problems, creating a shortage of staple medications used to treat a wide array of patients.”

The problem is made worse because Pfizer, “controls about 60% of the U.S. market for injectable opioids.” Since there is little competition, doctors and hospitals and their patients are left searching for alternative pain treatments.

Talia Kirkland of Fox News interviewed doctors at the Veterinary Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania for her piece, “The Opioid Epidemic’s Forgotten Victims: Pets.” She found that, “Hospitals treating people obviously get first priority in receiving the drugs. That means that shortage is more acute in animal clinics.”

The Veterinary Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, one of the largest clinics in the nation, is worried that there are not enough opioids to adequately provide anesthesia for their patients.

This shortage will force animal doctors to administer second-choice drugs, which are pricier, or deliver standard drugs differently. Dr. Jennifer Jones, owner of Animedic and One Love Veterinary Clinics in Philadelphia, worries that “doctors who are being forced to deviate from the American Animal Hospital Association guidelines will have to second guess the drug’s effects.”

This problem requires pet owners to make difficult decisions regarding their pet’s health. With the cost to sedate an animal rising, many will not receive the necessary care.

What does this mean to you? Before your pet’s next procedure, be sure to ask your Veterinarian about the type of anesthesia he will be administering and the cost of the drugs.

Hopefully there will be a quick resolution; however, at the moment, there is no clear end in sight.

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