The Role of Veterinarians in Preventing Prescription Opioid Abuse


Veterinarians can prescribe highly-addictive and powerful painkillers for pets.

Officials with the New Jersey Attorney General’s office are calling on veterinarians to help combat the opioid epidemic, announcing stricter guidelines aimed at preventing individuals from abusing prescription medications meant for their pets.

The new guidelines, created by the professional boards that oversee veterinarians and pharmacists, urge veterinarians who prescribe opioids to use the New Jersey Prescription Monitoring Program (NJPMP). New Jersey law already requires prescribers to review patients’ prescription history prior to dispensing certain controlled substances, such as opioids. Although veterinarians sometimes prescribe highly-addictive and powerful painkillers for pets, they have been exempt from this requirement.

The guidelines recommend including owner information, as well as pet names, on prescriptions to better track the sales on the NJPMP. The Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners sent letters to its members recommending that they record the animal’s name, species, and date of birth, as well as the owner’s name and address, on each prescription provided to owners to treat their animals. By including this information on pet prescriptions, physicians can look up what kind of medications patients have been obtaining in their pet’s names.

New Jersey veterinarians and pharmacists are also encouraged to access NJPMP’s Suspicious Activity Report to report any individuals that they suspect may be seeking controlled substances for misuse, abuse, or diversion.

“There appears to be a rising trend in people using their pets, sometimes even deliberately injuring their pets, to obtain these restricted pain medications for themselves,” Sharon Joyce, Acting Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs, said in a press release. “The new standards make it easier to track controlled dangerous substances prescribed for animals to better identify behaviors that indicate someone is seeking the drugs for any purpose other than the treatment of a pet’s existing medical condition.”


New Jersey Attorney General and Division of Consumer Affairs Announce Stricter Guidelines for Veterinary Prescriptions to Prevent Pet Pain Medications from Being Use to Feed Opioid Addictions [news release]. New Jersey. Accessed October 12, 2017.

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