Veterinarians talk new opioid prescription regulation for pets

Veterinarians talk new opioid prescription regulation for pets
Duffy said that the new regulations limit doctors to prescribe just 5 days worth of controlled substances in an effort to curb opioid misuse by owners. (Source: WECT)

NORTH CAROLINA (WECT) - Under North Carolina's STOP Act, doctors across the state are changing the way they prescribe opioids. According to Associate Doctor Kara Duffy with Atlantic Animal Hospital, veterinarians are now following suit.

Duffy said that the new regulations limit doctors to prescribe just 5 days worth of controlled substances in an effort to curb opioid misuse by owners.

"We've always kind of just tried to pay attention to how we're dispensing controlled drugs and making sure that nothing seems suspicious when we're filling them but we weren't legally required to do as much as what we've done in practice," she said.

Duffy said some prescription medication used by people are also prescribed to pets, especially after surgery or injury. She said that those medications cause the greatest concern of abuse, along with certain anti-anxiety medicines.

"Whatever we can do to minimize the risk, I think it's a good idea," she said.

She added that the office has had concerns about certain owners in the past, and that family members have reported their concerns to technicians at the hospital. Duffy said that they work with area pharmacies to minimize the risk of opioid abuse.

Pet owner Hayden Heck said it's hard to imagine that someone would use a pet to further their addiction, and he hoped that the new rules would help put an end to it.

"It's a good idea and I think it should help a little but, unfortunately there are still people who will still take advantage of the situation at hand," he said.

According to a the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Board, the STOP Act requires The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services to collaborate with the medical board about electronic prescriptions and submitting data to the state.

NCDHHS will submit a report to the General Assembly on February 1st, 2018.

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