Filling prescriptions for animals is essentially the same as filling prescriptions for humans—with some key differences.
Although filling prescriptions for animals is essentially the same as filling prescriptions humans, there are some key differences that pharmacists should be aware of and ways to ensure the process is top-tier.
Perhaps most important, veterinary prescription records should include the prescriber’s DEA registration number if the monitored drug is a controlled substance or the prescriber's State License number if the monitored drug is a non-controlled substance.
Kathleen Taylor, RPh, FACVP, with Animal Pharm LLC in Pembroke Massachusetts, has been involved in veterinary pharmacy for 22 years, and has learned many of the top professional secrets for filling scripts for animal patients.
“We make lots of flavored treats,” she said. “We use the smallest caps available for most of our drugs for making capsules. If you have a cat that needs multiple cardiac medications, we can put 3 to 4 drugs into 1 capsule, which is the size of a tic tac or smaller. The capsule takes the flavor away.” Some of those frequently prescribed medications taste terrible, “so if we can capsulize it, taste is a non-issue,” Taylor added.
However, Taylor acknowledged that this process of creating individualized medications can be time-intensive, as the pharmacy offers a plethora of different dosage forms.
“People think we just pour and count, but that’s not what we are doing here,” Taylor said. “On average, we have 2 to 3 pharmacy techs on duty at all times; on a good day, we fill 75 scripts. We adhere to lean principles—a chain of process that we follow and we make sure none of the techs have more than one script in front of them at one time so mistakes can’t be made.”
Rosemary Mihalko, PharmD, owner of Hieber’s Pharmacy in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, noted that continuing education courses in veterinary medicine is her number one recommendation for best practices for filling scripts.
“We all have to complete courses to renew our licenses, so selecting those that pertain to veterinary laws, regulations, and prescribing tendencies can significantly reduce time spent, frustrations, and errors,” she said. “If you work at a pharmacy that has an avian specialty office nearby, learn what you can about the different types of birds, common diseases, and relative medications. You’re not going to know everything, but knowing where to find the information makes a world of difference and creates a great deal of trust between the veterinarian, owner, and pharmacy.”
Having a staff that is properly trained and can communicate well to customers is also important for the process to go smoothly.
“Communication between the pharmacists and the pet owner who picks it up on how to give the medication and being available if they have any questions about it is also vital,” Taylor said. “That person-to-person is very important vs. something in the mail or given out to someone unfamiliar.”
Brian T. Bowers, PharmD, RPh, director of pharmacy at Oregon State University’s Carlson College of Veterinary Medicine, noted enhancing best practices come when the pharmacy industry as a whole decides to work together to correctly advocate and address the ever-changing issues.
“Prescription writing and terminology may differ between human doctors and veterinarians (i.e. the use of QD vs. SID) which can cause significant confusion,” he said. “However, I feel the main source of issues is that the pharmacy and veterinary community haven’t had the opportunity to collaborate to address each other’s needs and how to effectively move to make that possible."