Could pet/animal abuse change the course of the DEA and war on drugs ?

Wedgewood Pharmacy Survey Demonstrates Negative Impact of Opioid Shortages on Veterinarians, Pet Owners, and Pets

SWEDESBORO, N.J.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Sep 14, 2018–A nationwide survey shows that there are unintended consequences for veterinary medicine caused by the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) efforts to address the national opioid crisis. Opioids in animal medicine are the foundation, and often the only method, of pain control and anesthesia. They are critical for the treatment of animals that have been hit by a car, shot by a gun, mauled by another animal, undergone surgery, or suffer from a severe disease or other trauma. Most pet owners, regulators, elected officials, and state board of pharmacy members are not aware of the repercussions.

To address the mis-use and diversion of opioids by people, the DEA has proposed an average 10 percent decrease in the 2019 manufacturing quotas for six frequently abused opioids, including five key Class II opioid drugs commonly used by veterinarians. DEA decreased allowable opioid manufacturing quotas by 25 percent in 2017 and 20 percent this year. When supplies of these drugs are limited, manufacturers and distributors give preference to allocating their limited supplies for use in human health, creating shortages for veterinary medical practitioners. For example, in August, Pfizer suspended delivery of injectable opioids to veterinary customers.

According to the survey, these shortages have had the unintended results of creating unnecessary pain, suffering, and death of animals because alternatives are less effective and are more expensive.

Key findings of the survey:

In the past year, from 27% to 73% of veterinary professionals have had difficulty obtaining necessary supplies of five opioids they consider “important to your practice and to your patients’ health” by 50% – 80% of respondents. They include Hydromorphone, Morphine, Fentanyl, Hydrocodone, and Oxymorphone.Shortages of these opioids have caused … The use of less effective, non-narcotic alternatives such as NSAIDS (83%);Increased patient suffering (71%);Use of a local anesthetic (49%);Postponed procedures (26%); andPatient deaths (3%)88% of respondents “rarely” or “never” see the four warning signs published by DEA that a client is potentially abusing opioids. Nevertheless, 63% “have training and/or procedures in place for medical and other staff members to recognize the signs of opioid abuse.”

The survey was conducted in September by Wedgewood Pharmacy, the largest animal-health compounding pharmacy in the U.S. The invitation to participate went to 53,968 veterinary professionals; 1,135 completed the survey. The results (which include hundreds of write-in comments from veterinarians) will be included in formal comments that the company will submit to the DEA regarding the proposed production quota reductions. [DEA will be accepting comments at until 11:59PM, September 19, 2018. Please reference ‘‘Docket No. DEA–488P’’ on all correspondence, including any attachments.]

Michael Blaire, R.Ph., FIACP, vice president, Government and Regulatory Affairs noted, “Shortages limit therapeutic choices and are especially problematic given the number of species veterinarians treat—from tiny kittens to large dogs, horses, and even elephants—and how different species react to opioids or their alternatives. Shortages demand that veterinarians frequently change medications and pain-management protocols, and this increases the risk of medical errors. While we applaud DEA’s efforts to address the national opioid crisis among humans, we’re asking them to be thoughtful about the impact the actions they take will have on the animal patients owned by 68% of American homes and the millions of animals in zoos, aquaria, stables, shelters, hospitals, research facilities, police and military facilities. We need to work together to address a national crisis in human health while continuing to provide veterinarians with the medicines they need to practice.”

One veterinarian wrote this comment to illustrate how opioid shortages affect his or her patients: “We have an emergency practice, so we see a lot of very painful animals from surgeries, traumas, and severe illness. Most of our patients in acute pain are not candidates for NSAIDS or other treatments like laser and acupuncture, which take longer to work and are not proven effective for severe pain. Not having access to opioids almost makes treatment cruel.”

Wedgewood Pharmacy and recently acquired Diamondback Drugs are licensed by DEA to manufacture controlled substances, which they do exclusively for animal patients. Compounded medications are created and prepared by specially trained pharmacists and pharmacy technicians in nationally accredited, state-regulated facilities, when mass-manufactured drugs are not available or appropriate for a patient. These medications are prescribed and dispensed under orders written by veterinarians. At least one facility has experienced difficulty obtaining the quantities of active pharmaceutical ingredients needed to meet the demands of their veterinary customers, because of purchasing quotas set by DEA.

The sampling of participants in the survey was participant-driven, not random, and therefore measures of statistical significance such as confidence levels and sampling error do not apply to the results of the study. They represent the opinions of the professionals who participated.

About Wedgewood Pharmacy

In its 37 years, Wedgewood Pharmacy has grown from a local community pharmacy to become one of the largest compounding pharmacies in the United States; it is the leading pharmacy in animal health. Wedgewood Pharmacy serves more than 50,000 prescribers and hundreds of thousands of patients throughout the U.S. every year.

George (late) and Lucy Malmberg, both pharmacists, purchased Wedgewood Pharmacy in 1981; the pharmacy was founded in 1980. In June 2016, Chicago-based New Harbor Capital became the majority owner of the company. In July 2018, the company acquired Diamondback Drugs, Scottsdale, Arizona.

Wedgewood Pharmacy is accredited by the Pharmacy Compounding Accreditation Board (PCAB ® ) for compliance with PCAB and other nationally recognized compounding standards. PCAB was formed by eight of the nation’s leading pharmacy associations and is a service of Accreditation Commission for Health Care. As a third-party accreditation organization, PCAB has developed the highest national standards against which providers are measured to demonstrate their ability to effectively and efficiently deliver quality compounded medications to consumers. Wedgewood Pharmacy employs more than 500 people in its state-of-the-art compounding pharmacies in Swedesboro, New Jersey and Scottsdale, Arizona.

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CONTACT: Wedgewood Pharmacy

Michael Blaire, R.Ph., FIACP

Vice President, Government and Regulatory Affairs

7 Responses

  1. This is completely assinine. I hope that everyone contacts the person on the article and tells them the same thing and More as we’re all saying here in these comments.

    I’m like everyone else these days and not functioning well because the DEA decided to hit my Dr office! and my.meds cut in half!
    My pain isnt important enough to the Government as an animals.

    The other day my senior dog Molly who has severe arthritis all over hurt her shoulder going up the stairs into the house and I had take her to the vet. Her arthritis caused her to pull a tendon thats become inflamed from her chronic pain.
    My dogs vet says she needs to be on these pain meds for the rest of her life because she can’t take nsaids anymore. It’s affected her liver the blood tests say.

    So, now my dog receives better pain management than I do and for the REST of her life and gets the dose of pain meds she needs. In fact, she gets stronger med than she needs so I have to cut the pills in half.

    So isn’t it strange that the Government Just recently did a study saying opioids aren’t effective for humans with chronic pain especially arthritis pain conditions of the spine- low back pain or anywhere else?
    This just goes to prove that those studies we’re absolute bullshit. Excuse my French. But that was complete false information.

    How F-ed up is this! Our Drs used to tell us , the same thing! That we’d need these same meds for the rest of our lives too but we’re being CUT OFF!
    So I guess,..
    Humans dont matter if they’re arthritis pain is constant and incurable. But animals do.
    And I thought they did that study on rats! Animals!

    But, I do Absolutely Love animals and I’m so glad they don’t have to suffer too. But since when is an animal more important than a human?

  2. One line in here pissed me off…”we applaud the DEA reaction to the opioid crises in humans” you must not understand what they are doing to pain patients is also inhumane to say the least. People with diseases that can not be cured and have assistance are violently being taken off their meds and forced to physically take care of themselves, that is inhumane if I ever saw it, why is animals made to suffer as well as humans,if one of them just one were to face one of these curses we have to deal with then things would change. I never wished anyone to get my illness/disease but now I wish everyone could taste what this feels like….maybe animals and humans wouldn’t have to suffer anymore….

  3. I must say, most of this article is the complete opposite on how they r treating pain in HUMANS, do they somehow think, that NSAIDS are can be effective is humans suffering, and not on dogs, cats?, if the Gov and everyone else who thinks they are “experts” think its ok to watch HUMANS suffer after car accidents, stabbings, falling, broken bones, and disease?
    A veterinarian states, “accupunture and laser take longer to work and are NOT PROVEN EFFECTIVE, ” and not having opioids is almost cruel” WHAT,? Its only cruel when it doesnt involve a human,?
    And this,
    “Michael Blaire, R.Ph., FIACP, vice president, Government and Regulatory Affairs noted, “Shortages limit therapeutic choices and are especially problematic given the number of species veterinarians treat—from tiny kittens to large dogs, horses, and even elephants—and how different species react to opioids or their alternatives.” So its only recognized that diff meds are needed for diff injuries ects, if it involves , again a NON human?
    I dont want my pets suffering, but i also dont want people suffering, these vets only thought opioid free pain care is cruel, after it started to affect their patients, but didnt stand up for Humans being denied and forced agony

    • It’s not only vets that suffer in pain, we have over 100 million people documented of some sort of pain condition/illness, I have a pain illness and boy this is not fun at all. I believe everyone has a right to some sort of pain magement including our pets. I seriously can not understand why this is happening to millions of people is as if the world has left us to kill ourselves because we are low in the food chain. I am tired of saying goodbye to friends with pain conditions because of lack of care…. it’s truly sad what this world has come to..

  4. Unbelievable!! People won’t speak up for other people in pain, but they will go to hell and back so their pets won’t suffer! And rightly so, I would do anything for my pet in pain!

    But why this empathy and compassion can’t be transferred to humans is beyond my ability to understand or comprehend!!!

    I hope and pray that this makes a dent in the evil power hungry DEA who are on a power Trip!

    • I was going to say the exact same thing that you said, but you’ve said it so well that there’s no need. The only thing that I would add totit is as foklows. I definitely advocate for the humane treatment of animals, but if they are aware of animals suffering because of this lunacy, it is clearly evident (to me at least) that they are completely and deliberately ignoring human suffering related to it. This only goes to further my belief that none of this nonsense is about saving anyone from anything. That it’s about nothing more than the almighty dollar. I might add that in knowing this, there are definite implications that they would prefer that all of those of us with complex health issues ceased to exist. In which we would stop interfering with the money making potential for insurance companies and clogging up the doctor’s offices, as well as any other forms of making revenue that we are impeding by having issues that we don’t want, didn’t ask for and can’t control on our own. How humanitarian of them. If, as human beings, we will afford comfort to our animal friends but not our own kind, there is something terribly, horrifically wrong with the minds of our society and the entities/individuals that have dominion over it. The love of money. I think we can probably all agree, whether you’re religious or not, that it is indeed the root of all evil. This farce of a war has evidenced that, like nothing else.

  5. omg, I’ve been worried about my dog –he has periodic, apparently undiagnosable, back flare ups that leave him screaming in agony. The only thing that helps him immediately are injectable pain meds b/c I don’t want to have them thinking I’m taking home his pain meds for myself. If the next time his back goes out the vet is out of injectables, I’m gonna go completely berserk!
    This insanity has to stop for people AND animals!

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