New pharmacy communication resources

Like veterinarians, pharmacists are trained professionals who want to do what’s best for their clients. They receive training in advanced chemistry, biochemistry, and human physiology and pharmacology. But your local pharmacists may or may not be aware that animal physiology and pharmacology can differ significantly from that of humans, and this can lead to unintentional prescription errors and conflict.

The number of clients asking for prescriptions to fill (at real or perceived lower cost) at a human pharmacy is rising, and with that comes legitimate concerns of pharmacy errors. We’ve received a number of messages from veterinarians whose patients have been harmed by inappropriate substitution of medications, unapproved alterations to the prescribed dosage, and the use of potentially harmful ingredients (such as xylitol).

Because the requests for prescriptions are not going to go away, veterinarians can play a vital role in improving the safety of the prescriptions by writing clear prescriptions using terminology and abbreviations with which pharmacists are familiar; by communicating with clients to educate them on the importance of correctly filled prescriptions when it comes to their animal’s health; and communicating professionally with pharmacists.

We’ve developed some resources to help our members accomplish this role:

6 thoughts on “New pharmacy communication resources

  1. Thanks for publishing this enlightening piece of information. May I also add that even when animal physiology slightly defers from that humans, pharmacists are still duty-bound to safeguard the health of patients receiving prescriptions. Hence, the need to communicate using standard prescription terminologies to avoid any errors.

  2. We too have had pharmacies refuse to fill our clinic’s prescriptions because they adamantly insist we MUST provide them with our DEA number (even though it is not a controlled substance, and not all DVMs need to have a DEA number), and/ or an “NPI” number (National Prescriber Identification number that is somehow linked to a human physician’s license number). They have refused to accept our active state license numbers, even when we’ve explained that we are not human physicians; we are veterinarians, it is not a controlled substance so no DEA number is required, and they won’t be needing these numbers to bill human insurance companies! Unfortunately some pharmacy personnel I’ve spoken with truly do not seem to understand there is a difference. Plus their computer systems are often not designed to accommodate veterinarians, requiring ID numbers we do not have. It has resulted in great inconvenience to our clients in these cases, especially when they are out of town and need a refill.

    I spoke with someone working at a major national chain pharmacy today. I told her about some of these problems we are having with prescriptions. She too was operating under the assumption she had to get certain information in order to go through a (human) insurance company, just out of habit! She also was completely surprised when I told her about xylitol being toxic to dogs; she had no idea it was toxic. It is my understanding that their training only covers humans, in which case it seems obvious that it could be dangerous for them to be filling (not to mention altering) animal prescriptions without knowledge of species’ differences, animal doses, animal physiology/ pharmacology/ biochemistry etc. equal to what veterinarians have. Do they want to add many such hours to their curricula in order to be as qualified with animals as they are with humans? Logic tells us they must learn the basics in order to be qualified. Will they do so? I highly doubt it.

    Legislators as well must be informed that cats and dogs are NOT the same as humans! Like pharmacists, without appropriate medical and biological training they have no idea how species vary. Without that understanding, it will be all too easy for them to jump on board the “veterinary prescription mandate”. It should not only concern veterinarians, but the pet-owning public. We also owe it to our clients to make them aware of the risks of filling prescriptions at a place where they have no understanding of side effects and safety for animals, and the importance of making sure the prescription is not altered by the pharmacy.

  3. A local CVS pharmacy would not fill a prescription I wrote because I did not have a DNA number. It was not a controlled substance , not a schedule I or II drug, and I am a licensed veterinarian in the state. I provided the pharmacy personnel my license number in the state and offered to bring in my certificate. Didn’t mater.

    • Dr. Voith, I’m sorry to hear that the pharmacy did not fill your prescription. Based on previous interactions with other veterinarians in similar situations, we’ve found that sometimes, pharmacy staff believe they are unable to bypass certain electronic settings that appear to require DEA registration numbers (even for non-controlled drug prescriptions). In these cases, the pharmacies just needed to adjust a certain setting in their software, in order to allow a prescription from a veterinarian to be processed, which resolved the entire situation.

      Certainly, a veterinarian who is licensed in good standing with the state should be able to prescribe non-controlled substances for their patients, without the need for a DEA registration. Additionally, although DEA has indicated it cannot enforce against pharmacies who ask for DEA registration numbers as identifier numbers, the DEA has indicated it frowns on this inappropriate use of its registration numbers. And AVMA certainly believes that the use of DEA registration numbers for identification purposes is not appropriate.

      At this point, you might go back to the pharmacy to relay that they might need to adjust a setting on their software that could allow for veterinarians’ prescriptions. This could easily resolve the concern. If you find that the pharmacy is still indicating an inability or unwillingness to fill your prescription, please reach back out and we can further discuss this.

  4. Just a quick clarification on the Message to AVMA members. Physicians and pharmacists do use and recognize BID and TID, just not SID.