Topical Painkiller Toxic to Pets

The FDA is warning pharmacists that pets are at risk of death when exposed to topical pain medications containing flurbiprofen.

The FDA has issued a national alert to pharmacists, pet owners, veterinarians, health care providers warning that pets are at risk of illness and death when exposed to topical pain medications containing the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), flurbiprofen.

The warning was prompted by a fatal incident involving the cats of a patient using the product. Two of the owner’s cats developed symptoms that included reluctance to eat, lethargy, vomiting, melena, anemia, and dilute urine. Both cats died despite veterinary care, while a third cat in the household also passed away after the owner had stopped using the medication.

Necropsies performed on the 3 cats revealed evidence in the kidneys and intestines consistent with NSAID toxicity. It is currently unknown how the cats were exposed to the medication.

The FDA recommended patients using topical medications containing flurbiprofen to take extra precautions to ensure their pets do not become exposed to the product, as even very small amounts could be dangerous to animals. The agency also instructed health care providers who prescribe topical pain medications containing flurbiprofen, as well as pharmacists who fill these prescriptions, to advise patients with pets to prevent exposure to the medication.

In addition to contacting a veterinarian, patients using a product containing flurbiprofen who observe adverse symptoms in their pets should report them to the FDA’s MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program. Patients can submit the form online at www.fda.gov/medwatch/report.htm, download it at www.fda.gov/MedWatch/getforms.htm, or call 1-800-332-1088 to request it. Completed paper forms can be returned to the address on the pre-addressed form or faxed to 1-800-FDA-0178.