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Growing Concerns About Pet Medication Mistakes

By Paula Ebben, WBZ-TV
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BOSTON (CBS) – We often hear about prescription errors, but they don’t just affect people.

There is growing concern about the number of medication errors involving pets.

Sarah Schuck is still mourning the loss of her Labrador Rafter. “It is really hard.”

What makes the death of her lovable dog even tougher is the way he died. There was an error on a prescription drug. Sarah gave him 2.25 teaspoons of medicine like the label instructed, instead of just 2.25 ccs.

The overdose compounded other health issues and Rafter had to be put to sleep.

Just days after Rafter died, the Food and Drug Administration issued a warning about some troubling patterns of pet prescription mistakes.

FDA investigators discovered errors stemming from issues like look-a-like packaging, drugs with similar names, and even sloppy penmanship.

Dr. Howard Silberman, a veterinarian, said the consequences of those mistakes can be completely devastating.

Dr. Silberman takes precautions like requiring medications and dosage levels be catalogued in a computer.

Only veterinarians or qualified technicians can fill prescriptions.

His office even puts the pet’s picture on the label to reduce the chance of a mix up.

One problem is pet medicine doesn’t always come from the Vet. For example, Rafter’s prescription was filled at a human pharmacy. They don’t often have the same safeguards, and might use different abbreviations.

Carmen Catizone of the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy said, “Currently most of the pharmacy curriculums don’t touch upon vet medicine.”

Catizone added some pet owners are also quick to try low cost alternatives. “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.”

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