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Animal Drug Investigation Reveals Pet Medication Often Doesn't Work 279

KentuckyFC writes: "Americans spent an estimated $14.2 billion on veterinary care for their pets in 2013 — and that doesn't even include proprietary health diets and food supplements. Put another way, pet owners pay about $850 annually in veterinary expenses per dog, and about $575 per cat. Factor in the emotional energy we invest in keeping our companion animals healthy, and you'd hope for high confidence in the end results. But when one journalist investigated the science behind the meds being used to treat his aging dog's osteoarthritis, he was in for a nasty surprise. Glucosamine and chondroitin food supplements? Next to useless. Tramadol to kill pain? It's probably just getting dogs high. The one treatment that's been proven to help, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug called carprofen, is often left on the shelf because of fears — likely overblown — that it might damage dogs' kidneys. In part, you can blame this sorry state of affairs on a lack of financial incentives for drug companies to run clinical trials on animals. But often, vets aren't paying attention to the studies that have been done. If we want our dogs and cats to receive the best possible medical care, we need to ask our vets some tougher questions about why they think the drugs will work."
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Animal Drug Investigation Reveals Pet Medication Often Doesn't Work

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  • What else is new? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 31, 2014 @05:14PM (#46123425)

    So? Often the HUMAN drugs don't work either, but we still pay billions out each year for them, and don't get me started on the "homeopathic" and "vitamin" crazes.

  • Animal Testing (Score:4, Interesting)

    by WoodstockJeff ( 568111 ) on Friday January 31, 2014 @05:17PM (#46123459) Homepage

    Why would you want to risk getting attacked by PETA and other animal rights organizations by doing testing on animals? Heck, you can't even shampoo a dog without someone getting upset!

  • by g0bshiTe ( 596213 ) on Friday January 31, 2014 @05:28PM (#46123581)
    Which is why I had my dog put to sleep when she had a seizure, probably treatable, but she also had cancer and was 14 and had lost hear hearing about a month prior to the seizure. At that point all I could picture was leaving for work in the morning the dog having a seizure upstairs and taking a tumble down the stairs in the dazed and confused moments afterward and then lying there in pain broken for 8 hours until I got home to find her.

    She went to the emergency vet that night and was put to sleep.

    She is loved and missed, this was 4 years ago.
  • by Ethan Bernard ( 2954293 ) on Friday January 31, 2014 @05:29PM (#46123603)

    I'm a cat owner. This average sounds about right to me. But keep in mind that this is an average, not a median, and the average is skewed upward by a small number of people* who spend thousands a year to fix problems that inevitably arise in their older pets. Cat chemotherapy, for example, costs about $100 a week.

    *Who are these people? The wealth distribution of the united states is also highly skewed, with a long tail at the high end.

  • Re:Yikes. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mythosaz ( 572040 ) on Friday January 31, 2014 @05:31PM (#46123611)

    The adults in my immediate family (parents, siblings) all have medical power of attorney documents and clear instructions to never leave us in a situation where we're left to suffer or "burden" the family. We're all slated for cremation, with the ashes to go to anyone who might want them. None of us have a special desire to be remembered by a pile of cremains.

    There are situations like Alzheimer's which could quite likely suck for everyone, but we'll cross that bridge when we get to it.

    We've dealt with a few cancers now, and we've (as a family) made the decisions to take treatments based on expected quality of life around it.

    Pet related, I've had a few animals put down. Sad, but death is (mostly) a fact of life.

    [With only 100 billion humans ever having lived, 7% of us are still alive today, making "being human" only 93% lethal to date...]

  • Re:What else is new? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bluefoxlucid ( 723572 ) on Friday January 31, 2014 @05:34PM (#46123645) Homepage Journal

    What's worse is we push profitable drugs. I put myself on phenotropil (a high dose--people recognize the stimulant effect at 100mg, but reading ADHD research and doing molecular composition and mass analysis I've figured out it should be about 20-25mg twice per day), and that's had miraculous effects on the ADHD--and the dissociation (which I've tended to use as a tool--but holy shit being a part of the real world is overwhelming), and even the sociopathy (emotional centers of my brain are hooking back up). Of course, Dextroamphetamine and Methylphenedate are more profitable... oddly enough, since they're also insanely generic. Adderall is multiple Dex salts and a 12.5% load of Levoamphetamine salt, which have widely varied half-lives so not really a good idea.

    The worst part? Phenotropil's side effects include a headache from my brain starting to cannibilize itself for required acetylcholine--this is the same headache you get from studying too hard--so I'm also intaking a crazy amount of choline supplements (about 1200-1500mg/day)--and insomnia. Methylphenedate? Psychosis. Dex? Also psychosis, but less severe than Methylphenedate. They're both systemic toxins, as well as neurotoxins; phenotropil is well-tolerated and is neuroprotective. The dosage window is pretty narrow--high enough for a clinical effect, but not so high as to induce nasty side effects or toxicity, is hard with MPH and Amphetamine; Phenotropil it's just avoiding tolerance to the stimulant effect, which is why I said the dosage should be lower (I'm taking 100mg every day, but 25mg twice per day would be better; the same low-dose tactic is used to avoid Dextroamphetamine tolerance, which follows the same mechanism).

    In short: the drugs as prescribed are horribly bad for you; the drugs that aren't prescribed have fewer side effects and are probably (not proven, but believed with rather high confidence) actually good for you. Phenotropil is neuroprotective: it prevents brain damage.

    I take a B vitamin ... out of habit now, I guess. I was previously using SAM-e to maintain a hypomanic state, which requires B9 and B12 to prevent headaches and other side effects. Megavitamins are useless, and vitamin supplementation is only useful if you're deficient. Choline supplementation is probably the only universal one for that--250mg CDP Choline/day supplementation would be good for most people--but even that's not strictly necessary.

  • by blindseer ( 891256 ) <blindseer&earthlink,net> on Friday January 31, 2014 @06:03PM (#46123943)

    Having taken tramadol myself I can say that it is quite effective at relieving pain. It also tends to keep me from sleeping. The withdrawal from it was unpleasant, just taking it once can give dizziness and nausea for hours after it wears off.

    I hate tramadol but it seems some people really like it because of the intense high it can give. After the bad experience with tramadol I was able to convince my physician to give me codeine and hydrocodone (not at the same time) which works much better for me. Because of the crazy laws we have I could get truly high inducing levels of tramadol without much issue but getting opiates without liver killing levels of NSAIDs to go with it requires an act of Congress.

    I believe that codeine should be over the counter medications. The NSAIDs I was given before were ineffective and were likely poisoning me. I got a clue on how bad that stuff was when my physician scheduled me for a liver and kidney function test. The number of people that are hospitalized or die from Tylenol overdose every year is staggering. The people that die from opiate overdose do so largely because the quality control of street drugs is questionable.

    I also have to wonder how many opiate overdoses were not actually an overdose of the opiate, but instead an overdose of the Tylenol or NSAID that is usually mixed with it. I'm sure the big money in medicines want to keep any overdoses quiet when they can. When they can't they'll blame it on the "evil" opiates. It not only makes the drug makers look good, it makes the DEA look good.

    Got off on a rant there. Anyway, tramadol isn't so great. NSAIDs and Tylenol work for mild pain. The best stuff is the natural stuff, codeine. People, and their pets, have been taking it for thousands of years. It's safe and effective. Overdose is only a real issue when concentrated to insane levels to get high. If you're getting high off codeine then you're doing it wrong.

  • by sh00z ( 206503 ) <sh00z@yaho[ ]om ['o.c' in gap]> on Friday January 31, 2014 @06:14PM (#46124049) Journal

    2.) My dog isn't from a puppy mill; she's from a reputable breeder

    There's your problem. Get a shelter mutt. They are healthier, more easygoing, and you can feel like you're contributing to the solution, not the problem. Says the former owner of a cocker spaniel from a "reputable breeder" that developed cataracts at three years old.

Always leave room to add an explanation if it doesn't work out.