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    Prescriptions for Pets are on the Rise

    What you need to know when filling prescriptions for Fido and Fluffy.


    Pharmacists need to receive more education on veterinary drugs because “any pharmacist who works in retail for any amount of time will receive a prescription for a pet patient,” said Blythe. This is true, she said, among both chains and independents, although independents are more likely to be involved in the compounding of veterinary drugs. Online pharmacies, too, need to have the knowledge to safely and accurately dispense veterinary products.

    To date, said, Blythe, “roughly 35 schools of pharmacy in the United States offer didactic courses in veterinary medicine.” Additionally, three schools—University of Wisconsin, North Carolina State University, and Purdue University—offer residencies in veterinary pharmacy.

    A pioneer in the education of pharmacists in veterinary medicine, Blythe developed an online course in 2001 that is offered through the University of Florida School of Pharmacy, where she serves as an adjunct. “This is a convenient way for both practicing pharmacists and pharmacy students to be educated in the field of veterinary medicine,” she said. Credits from the course may be transferred back to the student’s home school. Since its inception, about 3,000 students have completed the course.

    common treatment areasBlythe has also developed continuing education courses in veterinary medicine for chain drugstores, including Target and Costco. “These chains said ‘We can do this. We can provide pet meds, but first, we need to educate our pharmacists,’” Blythe said.

    At Walgreens, spokesperson Allison Mack told Drug Topics that “Walgreens pharmacies are able to dispense many of the commonly used prescription drugs for dogs and cats. Pets are a part of the family, and we cater to pet owners by offering a number of benefits through our Prescription Savings Club, which offers discounted pricing on common human medications often prescribed for pets,” said Mack.

    “Our pharmacists may use various clinical resources that are specific to pets since animals respond differently to drug therapies than humans. They also work closely with veterinarians whenever they have a question on a pet prescription,” said Mack.

    The market for veterinary medicine is a healthy one. According to a 2015 White Paper from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), 65% of Americans currently own a pet, and retail sales of veterinary prescription medications are expected to top $10 billion by 2018. Additionally, 36 states have adopted laws, regulations, or policy statements that specifically or implicitly require veterinarians to provide their clients with a written prescription upon request. Veterinarians who don’t comply could face disciplinary action, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association, and such discipline could extend to veterinarians in states that haven’t enacted a specific law.

    Kathleen Gannon Longo
    Kathleen Gannon Longo is a Contributing Editor.


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