Prescribing Extra-label Drugs at Your Practice

medications for pets

As a veterinarian, you have probably prescribed extra-label drugs countless times to patients. While these medications may not have been designed for the specific species you are prescribing them to, veterinarians have been doing this for years. The veterinary version of some drugs are either incredibly expensive or simply don’t exist. Plus, they are completely safe in your experience.

While extra-label drugs may be safe for the animal to take, could there be other negative consequences?

Will your clients feel uncomfortable about it? Will they think it is unhealthy for the animal? Will it set a precedent for self-prescribing human drugs?

As a veterinarian, you have to think about things like this and decide how to mitigate these risks. Just because a drug is biologically safe to prescribe doesn’t mean you should prescribe it. It could hurt business, or lead to hurting the patient down the road.

What Do Clients Think?

The first thing to think about is the impression it makes on clients. With no explanation, clients could feel uneasy about their pets being prescribed extra-label drugs. This is especially true if they find out that those medications have not been tested on their pet’s species.

That being said, you as the veterinarian have great reasons to prescribe the medication, so communicate that. Tell them that they are saving hundreds of dollars by using extra-label drugs, and that, while the drugs may not have been tested on pets, they have been used on pets for many years. Assure them that extra-label drugs can be a safe and effective alternative to expensive veterinary medications.

Clients will appreciate this, knowing that you are taking into account their finances. Instead of walking away uneasy about your decision, they will walk away appreciating your service and are very likely to come back.

Will It Set a Precedent?

“If I can give Benadryl to my cat, I can probably give it Tylenol as well.” 

It is essential that you are clear with your patients that not all human medications can be used on animals. The last thing you want is for pet owners to think this – and for their pet to suffer because of it.

While you don’t want to go overboard, discuss the potential dangers of giving pets prescribed human drugs. It is even a good idea to give them a few examples of drugs they should definitely NOT give their pet.

While prescribing extra-label drugs at your practice is completely fine, it is important to understand the dangers, and to know what is going through your clients’ minds. Know how to mitigate the risks of extra-label drugs.

Client information sheets are a great way to get this information across.

client information sheets

VPR Cloud provides these client information sheets as just one of their many tools. Don’t confuse your clients with extra-label prescriptions. Instead, give them all the information they need. Give us a call to see what VPR Cloud can do for your vet practice.