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Similarities found in opioid prescribing by physicians, veterinarians

A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association on opioid prescribing and dispensing at the Ryan Veterinary Teaching Hospital at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine over an 11-year period highlights concerns parallel to those about excessive opioid prescribing in human medicine.

Researchers examined all opioid tablets and patches dispensed or prescribed by veterinarians at the small animal hospital from Jan. 1, 2007, through Dec. 31, 2017.

During the study period, hospital veterinarians prescribed more than 105 million tablets of tramadol, 97,547 tablets of hydrocodone, 38,939 tablets of codeine, and 3,153 fentanyl patches to dogs (73 percent), cats (22.5 percent), and exotic animals (4.5 percent). Overall, opioid use increased 41.2 percent, whereas visits increased by 12.8 percent.

The researchers conclude that the large, increasing volume of opioids prescribed at the veterinary teaching hospital highlights concerns parallel to those about excessive opioid prescribing for humans.

"The extent to which these data may represent similar volumes of prescriptions from the general veterinary practices and hospitals across the United States is suggested by the accompanying Pennsylvania state data," they write.

Read the JAMA study.

AVMA adds to Lead & Learn webinars

Woman at desk with laptopThe AVMA continues to offer online continuing education that provides insight into critical veterinary issues through its Lead & Learn webinar series at Coming up on March 13 is "Veterinary Career Center: An opportunity to learn how to experience best professional outcomes."

Each course offers one hour of CE credit. Sessions are free, with live webinars at convenient hours in the daytime and evening. The live webinars are open to all veterinarians, and most classes also are available to AVMA members in recorded format on demand, beginning about a week after the live session.

Some topics of past webinars include:

  • Pet health insurance.
  • Utilization of veterinary technicians.
  • Exit strategies for practice owners.
  • Lean practice management.
  • Basics of virtual care.
  • Simplifying the veterinary business model.
  • Counseling clients and others about assistance animals.
  • Repayment of student loans.
  • Caring for pets of the sick and elderly.
  • Merck Animal Health Veterinary Wellbeing Study.

AVMA part of delegation to antimicrobial task force

The AVMA was part of a delegation, led by the Food and Drug Administration, representing the United States in global discussions about antimicrobial resistance.

FDA officials asked the AVMA to send a representative as part of the U.S. delegation to the meeting of the Ad Hoc Codex Alimentarius Intergovernmental Task Force on Antimicrobial Resistance, according to an AVMA@Work blog post. The task force is working to revise the Code of Practice to Minimize and Contain Antimicrobial Resistance and develop guidance for integrated monitoring and surveillance of foodborne antimicrobial resistance. The task force, convened jointly by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Organization of Animal Health (OIE), met Dec. 10-14 in Busan, South Korea.

Dr. Mike Costin, an assistant director in the AVMA Division of Animal and Public Health, was the AVMA representative. Just a few weeks earlier, Dr. Costin also attended the OIE Global Conference on Antimicrobial Resistance.

Codex Alimentarius standards relating to food production and food safety influence federal regulations and policy in the United States and other nations. Dr. Costin says the work of the task force is ongoing.

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Related JAVMA content:

AVMA offers free online CE with new webinar series (July 15, 2018)