When you bring your pet to see us, you trust us to use medicines that are of high quality, safe and effective. We have a very robust licensing system for veterinary medicines in this country but because the market for veterinary drugs is comparatively small we often have to look to human drugs as well. We can do this legally under an European system called the Cascade.
Initially, with a few exceptions, if there is a veterinary medicine that is licensed for the condition we are treating in the species we are treating, then we have to use this first. If we need a different drug, or we are treating a condition for which there is no licensed veterinary medicine, then we can use a drug licensed in a different veterinary species or for a different illness in the same species. Failing this we can use a drug licensed in the humans. These drugs will not have gone through the rigorous safety and efficacy testing of the veterinary medicines although often there is an enormous wealth of information about their use collected from other vets that have used them. Indeed we have a published textbook, and also online data about uses, experience of doses, efficacy and side effects.
Because these medicines are not licensed we have to get you to sign a consent form before we use them on your pet, explaining the situation and that there may be unknown problems we are not aware of, although in the vast majority of cases the drugs and doses we use are tried and tested over many years. You should always ask us if you want more information about any medicines we use on your pet.
There are also several different groups veterinary medicines are divided into which determine where you can get them from and the advice you get with them, that’s a topic another posting!