Monday, January 23, 2017

Opioid epidemic giving rise to addicts who go 'vet shopping' for drugs

The opioid epidemic has given rise to a new breed of drug addicts, ones who go "vet shopping" to secure drugs for their pets that they plan to take themselves, Lindsey Bever reports for The Washington Post. "It is not known how widespread the problem really is because there is no conclusive data tracking cases of vet shopping . . . Drugs such as Ketamine, Tramadol and Valium, which are sometimes prescribed to pets, are used by drug addicts either by themselves or in conjunction with other opioids to enhance the effects."

All 50 states and Washington D.C. "have electronic databases known as Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs in which physicians can track controlled prescription drugs that are prescribed to patients," Bever writes. "But most states do not require veterinarians to report the prescribing and dispensing of these drugs. And some veterinarians argue that forcing them to do so would put an unnecessary burden on them and keep them from focusing on their jobs—caring for the animals."

But the problem persists, even if it is in its infancy, Bever writes. For example, a veterinarian in Elizabethtown, Ky. in 2014 became suspicious when a patient three times within three months requested Tramadol for their injured golden retriever. Veterinarian Chad Bailey told the Post, “That’s when I took notice. The cut looked sharp and clean—not like the kind in nature when a dog is cut on a fence or in a fight.”

The owner in 2015 was "sentenced to four years on five counts of obtaining a controlled substance by making false statements, a Class D felony, and three counts of torture of a cat or a dog, a Class A misdemeanor," Jeff D'Alessio reports for The News-Enterprise in Elizabethtown. Bever notes that the owner was released last month after serving about two years.

No comments: