December 29, 2015
Let’s talk about drugs! Drugs for your horse, that is. Many of the drugs we use on horses are only available as prescriptions from the Docs here. Seems a little strange since you humans can get Advil off the shelf, but there are reasons. Most of it revolves around livestock which enters the food chain like pigs, cattle, and goats. Bute can be very toxic to humans in even low doses, so the FDA decided that it must be controlled by veterinarians. Many antibiotics are under veterinary control for similar reasons. It is the FDA and USDA trying to maintain our safe food supply.
Veterinarians, as the keepers of these drugs, are under strict guidelines regarding when and how they can use and prescribe them. The FDA takes this so seriously that a violation of these guidelines could cause our Docs to lose their license. Now cats aren’t much for rules, but I think even I would have to follow these rules. The biggest part of this rule is what’s known as the Veterinarian-Client-Patient Relationship. This means that even as the real power behind the throne here at the office, I can’t give drugs out without permission of our Docs, and they have to have seen the critter in the last year. This rule doesn’t mean that once our Docs have seen you, you have free access to any and all drugs whenever you want, of course. The second part of this rule states that the Doc has to feel the drug is the right one for the animal at this time. So much for me supporting my catnip habit selling drugs out the back door….
Our Docs are more than happy to write prescriptions for medications. In fact, we love Publix for their free antibiotics, and cookies, they have awesome cookies, and pretty much the entire bakery section, and subs. OK, we just love Publix. That being said, all companies are not created equal. There is a thriving black market industry in prescription drugs for humans and that has slipped over to animals. It is very important that medications are approved for sale in the United States. Why does the United States label matter? Drugs approved for sale here are required to meet very stringent quality control measures. Drugs approved for sale in some countries can have as little as 60% of the labeled amount of the main ingredient in them and still be considered OK! It is also important that the company keep the medications happy. Wait, happy? Yep, like me requiring two ear scratches and a treat each morning, some medications like to be warm, or cold, or only cool but not room temperature. Some don’t like air, some don’t like water. Medications make us cats look as carefree as, I hate to say this, a dog.
Real world here: Pergolide. Originally made for humans with Parkinson’s. Unfortunately caused really bad heart problems in people who were on it for years and years. FDA pulled it from the human market and left us with nothing to treat Cushing’s. Any of you with an older horse know Pergolide is as important to them as a good meal is to me. For a few years our Docs had to have the drug made through a special process called compounding. This means a pharmacist mixed everything in small batches and then shipped it to our Docs. Only problem was Pergolide is overly sensitive (Teannie has this problem too when I try to steal her cat treats). The medications we were getting often didn’t contain nearly as much as we thought they did! Luckily a company called Boehringer Ingelheim developed Prascend, which means easy, consistent access to therapy for the senior crowd.
Why did I go in to all that? Because it’s important that you know what all goes in to the drug choices around here. Sure, I can make fun of them all day long for playing with drugs, but at the end of the day these two Docs work awfully hard to make sure the medications you get are the right ones. That means finding pharmacies that provide good pricing, good service, and ethical products. That means knowing all the things happening in the research world. That means knowing what works on what horses when. And that means a whole lot of behind the scenes work to make sure your horse has the very best care!