Prevent lawsuits by calling veterinary technical service lines to report adverse events

Protect yourself and your practice against legal action by consulting with the experts for each drug.
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Jun 28, 2010

Living in a litigious society, veterinarians need to be much more aware of adverse event reporting. Personally, when I was in practice, I rarely utilized a drug company’s technical services phone lines. But now that I work for one of these technical service lines myself, I realize that many practices use them frequently. These lines can be a wealth of information. Veterinarians working for these companies can often offer extralabel information for their products, including nonlabeled species usage, dosages, and mode of action, along with handling and storage details.

When dealing with an adverse event, it’s impossible to know everything about every drug. If you’re like me, you rarely read product inserts. After all, I’m busy and I don’t have the time to sit and read this stuff. It’s very helpful to have another veterinarian summarize the dosage, the pharmacokinetics, and the mode of action of a drug—and that’s what technical services doctors do. Learning about medications and how to handle adverse events is as easy as making a phone call.

When you call these technical service groups, be prepared to provide some information. Most companies will ask for pet owner information, patient signalment, and a synopsis of the adverse event. It is always helpful to have lot or serial numbers of the product in question, especially if you’re concerned about a perceived product defect. Most companies track the lot or serial numbers reported and, in time, can provide feedback if something similar has been reported in the past. Most of these veterinarians take calls from all 50 states, which represents a much greater cross section of data than you or I will ever be able to accumulate in practice. In addition, the companies often employ boarded specialists who can add additional insight.

What’s more, pharmaceutical companies are tasked with reporting adverse events to the FDA. The FDA maintains a website to keep track of these reports. Per the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) website, “Veterinary ADEs (adverse drug experiences) appearing in the online database represent clinical manifestations that score at least ‘possibly drug-related,’ each scored independently of one another in a single episode.” This means that, while some clinical manifestations are known to be related to a specific drug, others may just be suspected based on a timeline.

Dr. Margaret Thompson was the owner of a mixed animal practice and now works in the technical services department of a pharmaceutical company.