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FDA: Prescription Mix-Ups A Problem For Pets, Too

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Prescription medication (CBS)

Prescription medication (CBS)

Mary Kay Kleist Mary Kay Kleist
Mary Kay Kleist is a meteorologist for CBS 2 Chicago. Kleist joined...
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(CBS) – The FDA has issued a warning for pet owners, after investigators found a rising number of errors with prescription medication for pets.

CBS 2’s Mary Kay Kleist has tips on how to keep your pet safe.

All Sarah Schuck has left of her beloved dog Rafter is a collar, some pictures, and fond memories.

“It was really hard, and it was a tough realization,” Schuck said.

Because Rafter’s untimely death shouldn’t have happened.

The drug store that filled Rafter’s prescription made an error. The bottle label said to give Rafter 2 ¼ teaspoons, instead of the much smaller dosage her vet called into the pharmacy: 2.25 cc.

The overdose, combined with Rafter’s health problems, was too much. Schuck had him put to sleep.

The FDA said it’s easy for errors to be made when filling a prescription for your pet. FDA investigators discovered errors stemming from simple issues such as: lookalike packaging, drugs with similar names, and simple penmanship errors.

“I think that mistakes are made all the time,” said Dr. Jon Jorgensen, a veterinarian with Village Veterinary Practice. “Some animals are very specific as to what they can take. A pharmacist may substitute something, not knowing that that’s gonna be a problem for that particular patient.”

Jorgensen said the drug dosage mix-up for Rafter could also easily happen to other pets.

He explained the dosage on the label of Rafter’s medication was five times larger than the actual dosage the doctor called for.

“It’d be like, instead of taking instead of 2 Tylenol, taking 10 Tylenol,” Jorgensen said.

He said he takes prescription precautions at his practice. All medications and dosages are typed into a computer.

Pharmacy insiders said if pet owners shop around to find the lowest cost on pet meds, they need to do their research.

“Their primary concern should always be whether or not that pharmacist is knowledgeable in the area of veterinary medications. Price should be a secondary consideration,” said Carmen Catizone of the National Association Boards of Pharmacy.

To avoid a pet prescription mix-up, the FDA advised pet owners to verify the name and dosage of their animal’s drug with their vet.

Schuck said she hopes Rafter’s legacy lives on to help other pet owners avoid medication mistakes.

“Don’t be afraid to ask questions,” she said.

FDA investigators also cited two other common reasons for pet medication errors: pet owners misinterpreting labels, and accidentally giving pets human drugs.

Vets are concerned about human pharmacists filling pet prescriptions, because their training is so different.

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