The Press Newspaper

Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

The Press Newspaper

Pets as Family

Last October, I took my dog, Mattie, to the Sylvania Veterinary Hospital for the first time for surgery following a brief illness. I was reluctant, at first, because I would be taking her from her long-time veterinarian, who knew her well, and handing her off to strangers. Yet I was drawn by the hospital's claim of being the only facility in northwest Ohio to offer round the clock care.

Following surgery, the prognosis was guarded, but good. Masses on her spleen, which later proved to be cancerous, had not spread. She was alert and standing a few hours later. By 7 p.m., I was told she was not moving, and perhaps still groggy from surgery. At 9 p.m., according to her records, Mattie started breathing heavily. Four-and-a-half-hours later, employees who had left the building returned to find Mattie had stopped breathing, according to Dr. Kirsten Love, the vet on call at the hospital.

A necropsy (autopsy) failed to show a cause of death.

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Do you know about the drugs your pet will get? Does your vet use drugs in ways unapproved by the Food and Drug Administration? You may be surprised by the answer.

Veterinarians commonly administer or prescribe drugs “extra-label,” or in ways unapproved by the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM), to treat a variety of conditions and diseases. The FDA, the government agency responsible for overseeing drug safety, allows the widespread practice because it does not want to interfere with medical decision-making. Indeed, the extra-label use of drugs has saved the lives of many pets, particularly when there are no alternatives for treatment of severe and chronic illnesses.

While vets are allowed to use drugs in ways beyond what’s listed on their FDA approved labels, drug companies and their representatives cannot promote or recommend such use.

Why?

New drugs must undergo rigorous clinical trials to prove they’re safe before the FDA will approve them. The agency bans drug manufacturers from promoting or recommending drugs to vets for any use not on their FDA approved labels to keep companies from skirting requirements to test the drugs’ safety and efficiency before they go to market.

So how do veterinarians get extra-label information to use on our pets? One way is through Continuing Medical Education (CME) seminars - oftentimes sponsored and paid for by drug companies.

“In general, the FDA does not intend to interfere with…continuing medical education of veterinary practitioners,” said Linda Grassie, communications director at the FDA. “However,” she added, “continuing medical education events are frequently paid for by drug sponsors.”

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In December, 2004, Sue Draeger, of Curtice, noticed her black Labrador retriever, Murphy, was sore from arthritis. Eager to alleviate its pain, she took the dog to her veterinarian, who prescribed a common pain killer, Rimadyl (Carprofen). In the next three weeks, Murphy's health declined so rapidly that Draeger had the dog put to sleep.

"After three or four doses of Rimadyl over six days, all of a sudden, she started going downhill, fast," Draeger said of Murphy. "She was just not herself. She was laying down a lot. On Christmas Eve, she had a seizure. Before I gave her Rimadyl, she used to swim in my pond. She was a great dog.”

Draeger, a registered nurse, suspects Murphy may have had an adverse reaction to Rimadyl after she learned of the drug’s potentially dangerous side effects on the Internet.

Rimadyl, made by Pfizer Animal Health, belongs to a class of Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) prescribed to control osteoarthritis and post-surgical pain in dogs. While they are proven in many instances to be effective, several dogs have suffered seizures, internal bleeding, and liver and kidney failure from the drugs. Many have died.

Draeger, and others whose pets have had adverse reactions to NSAIDs, share gut-wrenching guilt for unwittingly contributing to the injury or death of their dogs, unaware of the drugs’ possible side effects.

Sadly, Draeger's story is a familiar one.

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 CommonPeople1

Giving money to people along road

Do you feel compelled to give money to people holding signs along the road asking for money?
2005865988 [{"id":"10","title":"No, I'm not sure they're legitimate.","votes":"3","pct":60,"type":"x","order":"1","resources":[]},{"id":"11","title":"No, I'm afraid they will use it for drugs.","votes":"1","pct":20,"type":"x","order":"2","resources":[]},{"id":"12","title":"Yes, I feel good about helping someone down on their luck.","votes":"1","pct":20,"type":"x","order":"3","resources":[]},{"id":"13","title":"Yes, we could all end up like that.","votes":"0","pct":0,"type":"x","order":"4","resources":[]}] ["#194e84","#3b6b9c","#1f242a","#37414a","#60bb22","#f2babb"] sbar 160 160 /communitypolls/vote/1-root.html?id=5 No answer selected. Please try again. Thank you for your vote. Answers Votes ...