Posts Tagged ‘pet medications’

A Heads Up About Novartis Products

Saturday, February 4th, 2012

Boy, oh boy, am I glad I am not the CEO of Novartis Pharmaceuticals right now. On January 9th of this year the company issued a voluntary recall of some of their over-the-counter human products including Excedrin, NoDoz, Gas-X Prevention Products, and Bufferin. It seems that these medications contained stray tablets, capsules, or caplets from other Novartis drugs including prescription painkillers manufactured at the same facility.

Now veterinarians are involved in the ruckus with the announcement that the following drugs are/soon will be on back order:

Interceptor Flavor Tabs® (heartworm preventive)

Sentinel Flavor Tabs® (flea control product)

Program Tablets and Suspension® (flea control product)

MilbeMite® (medication to treat ear mites)

Deramaxx® (pain relief medication)

The explanation for the backorders is closure of a Novartis manufacturing facility in Lincoln, Nebraska. The details are murky as of yet, but interruption of the manufacture of such top selling drugs typically means one thing and one thing only. I suspect that Novartis has been busted for being sloppy, perhaps as related to the recent recall of some of their big-name over-the-counter human products.

Such sloppiness seems to have spilled over to the Novartis animal health division as evidenced by the following letter recently delivered to veterinarians about Clomicalm®, a medication to treat separation anxiety in dogs:

Dear Doctor:

Novartis Animal Health US, Inc. is committed to delivering safe and efficacious veterinary products, and would like to inform you about a recent development involving CLOMICALM® (clomipramine hydrochloride) tablets.

Due to potential packaging issues at our manufacturing facility, there is a rare possibility that a wrong tablet may be found in bottles of CLOMICALM. Novartis has not received any reports where a patient experienced a product mix-up, nor has Novartis received any adverse events attributable to a product mix-up. However, as a precautionary measure, we would like to extend the following recommendations.

  1. Before dispensing CLOMICALM, open each bottle and examine the contents for tablets that are broken or incorrect in color, shape or size (visual guide included).
  2. Post a copy of the Dear Valued Customer letter issued by Novartis Animal Health in your clinic (copy included).
  3. Distribute copies of the Dear Valued Customer letter to affected pet owners. Novartis Animal Health will send your clinic extra copies upon request. If you publish a clinic newsletter, please consider using the provided notice.
  4. Report any abnormal findings to Novartis Animal Health at 800-637-0281.
  5. Return affected product to Novartis Animal Health; call the aforementioned number for full details.
  6. Inform your clients who have already received CLOMICALM® to examine tablets and refrain from administering any that are questionable in color, shape or size; and to contact Novartis Animal Health to discuss product return of affected bottles.
  7. Keep records of communication with pet owners in patient files.
  8. Ensure that any re-packaged tablet bottles are labeled with the product lot number.

Novartis Animal Health requests that you complete and return the enclosed Response Card reflecting that you have read and understand these points, and have discussed them with your clients.

Canine separation anxiety is a complex disorder that has great bearing on patient quality of life and the human-companion animal bond. Uninterrupted treatment is essential for successful management of this condition. Our veterinarians are prepared to discuss best practices with you in the event patients require alternative therapies, in order to minimize the risk of adverse events and potential relapse of signs.

We thank you for your attention and cooperation regarding this important issue. If you have any further questions, please contact Technical Product Services and Pharmacovigilance at 1-800-637-0281.

My response to a letter like this is, “Oy vey!” although I admit to being excited about adding the word “pharmacovigilance” to my repertoire!

So, what does this mean for you and your pets? If you are treating your dog or cat with a product manufactured by Novartis Animal Health, I strongly encourage you to call or email your veterinarian to plan a course of action. If need be, he or she may recommend an alternative so as to avoid any interruption in your pet’s therapy.

Is your dog or cat currently taking a Novartis product? If so, which one?

Best wishes,

Nancy Kay, DVM

Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Author of Your Dog’s Best Health: A Dozen Reasonable Things to Expect From Your Vet
Recipient, Leo K. Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Recipient, AKC Club Publication Excellence Award
Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook

Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health.   There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health are available at www.speakingforspot.com, Amazon.com, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller.

Get Out Your Reading Glasses!

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

When was the last time you took a close look at your pet’s prescription medication label?  Would you be surprised to know that, by law, the label is required to include twelve different informational items? Have a look at this mandatory dozen and see if every single one of them appears on your pet’s prescription label.

Speaking for Spot's advice on reading your pet's medication labels

1.   Date the medication was prescribed

2.   Your pet’s name

3.   Your name

4.   The prescribing veterinarian’s name

5.   Address and telephone number of the facility filling the prescription

6.   Amount of medication dispensed (milliliters, ounces, number of tablets or capsules)

7.   Strength of the medication (milligrams, micrograms)

8.   Dosage and duration of treatment

9.   Route of administration (orally, applied to the skin, in the ear)

10.  Number of refills

11.  Cautionary instructions (“shake well,” “keep refrigerated,” “don’t let your dog drive”)

12.  Expiration date 

After performing this exercise, please let me know what you learned, other than, that’s one heck of a lot of information for such a tiny label?  It’s no wonder I need my reading glasses! 

Wishing you and your four-legged family members abundant good health,

Dr. Nancy Kay
Specialist, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine 

Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot is available at Amazon.com, local bookstores, or your favorite online book seller. 

Speaking for Spot, signed by Dr. Kay, a great gift idea for holiday 2009 shoppingOrder  a copy of Speaking for Spot personally signed by Dr. Kay – http://www.speakingforspot.com/purchase.html

Join our email list – http://speakingforspot.com/joinemaillist.html

Look for us on Twitter – http://twitter.com/speakingforspot

Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook

Listen to Dr. Kay’s interview – A Veterinarian Advises “How to Speak for Spot” on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross

The Lowdown on Nutritional Supplements

Monday, July 6th, 2009

The nutritional supplement industry has become big business as people are looking for more natural ways to care for the health of their pets.  For example, a person might be inclined to try glucosamine or chondroitin sulfate for their dog’s arthritis pain rather than a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication (the equivalent of doggie Advil).

The number of nutritional supplement manufacturers has grown exponentially.  Unfortunately, the quality of products hitting the market is somewhat hit or miss.  There is no FDA approval process for nutritional supplements, and incidents of contamination with heavy metals, pesticides, or other unsavory ingredients have been reported.  Additionally manufacturers are not required to comply with specific formulations for their products- the strength or concentration of the active ingredient may be inadequate, too much of a good thing, or just right.

Knowing this, how in the world can the average consumer purchase a product that is safe and effective?  Certainly query your vet for his or her recommendations.  We veterinarians are taught to use the ACCLAIM system (described below) to assess nutritional supplements.   You too can use this system to make educated choices about these products for yourself and your four-legged loved ones.

A = A name you recognize.  Choose an established company that provides educational materials for veterinarians and other consumers.  Is it a company that is well established?

C = Clinical experience.  Companies that support clinical research and have their products used in clinical trials that are published in peer-reviewed journals to which veterinarians have access are more likely to have a quality product.

C = Contents.  All ingredients should be clearly indicated on the product label.

L = Label claims.  Label claims that sound too good to be true likely are.  Choose products with realistic label claims.

A = Administration recommendations.  Dosing instructions should be accurate and easy to follow.  It should be easy to calculate the amount of active ingredient administered per dose per day.

I = Identification of lot.  A lot identification number indicates that a surveillance system exists to ensure product quality.

M = Manufacturer information.  Basic company information should be clearly stated on the label including a website (that is up and running) or some other means of contacting customer support.

Wishing you and your four-legged family members good health,

Dr. Nancy Kay
Specialist, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine

Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot is available at Amazon.com, local bookstores, or your favorite online book seller.

Look for us on Twitter – http://twitter.com/speakingforspot

Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook

Listen to Dr. Kay’s interview – A Veterinarian Advises “How to Speak for Spot” on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross –