Nearly half of veterinarians surveyed are aware of opioid misuse by either a client or a staff member

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Opioid pills

Around the country, efforts to educate doctors and dentists on how to address the opioid crisis, but what about veterinarians?

Animals, like humans, may receive opioids for pain.

Efforts to increase opioid prescription monitoring by medical and dental providers are underway, but some people may try to use their own pets or other animals to get around that, according to a statement by Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb. The FDA even published an online resource for veterinarians.

Additionally, veterinary prescriptions can be misused by other members of the pet owner’s household or even veterinary staff, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In 2014, 13% of veterinarians surveyed in Colorado were aware of an animal owner who had intentionally injured an animal in order to get opioid medications.

In the same survey, 44% were aware of opioid abuse or misuse by either a client or a staff member.

More than 399,000 people died from overdoses involving prescription and illicit opioids from 1999-2017.

A study in Pennsylvania between 2007-2017 found 134 hospital veterinarians prescribed 105,183,689 tablets of tramadol, 97,547 tablets of hydrocodone, 38,939 tablets of codeine, and 3,153 fentanyl patches over the course of 366,468 patient visits. Veterinary visits increased by 13% with data suggesting the increase in visits was to get stronger opioids. During the rise at veterinary hospitals, prescriptions were decreasing from doctors and dentists in Pennsylvania, according to the study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Michigan is one of 20 states that require veterinarians to report their opioid prescribing to state officials, according to the National Alliance for Model State Drug Laws.

While many efforts and educational campaigns about opioid misuse are for doctors and dentists, the CDC recommends veterinarians also get trained on the issues.

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