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Reporter Raises Red Flag About Pet Medications

The The Indianapolis Star is shining a light on the booming industry of pet medications and raising some red flags about it.

In a three-part series, the newspaper finds a booming industry with higher risk of unforeseen side effects than the human drug market, veterinarians on the payroll of drug makers, and little legal protection for owners who say their pets have been killed by medications their pets were on.

John Russell, investigative reporter for The Indianapolis Star spoke to Here & Now’s Robin Young about the discoveries they made.

The Animal Health Institute has released a response to the investigation which is shown below.

Interview Highlights

On the state of the pet medication industry

“It’s a 700 billion dollar industry that we found out is very much under-regulated compared to the world of human medicines. Veterinarians are a key player. They not only prescribe, but they sell most medications unlike most physicians for human drugs, and if your dog or cat dies as a result of a drug as a result of malpractice or abuse or neglect you’re not going to get anything out of it because most states say the dog’s worth is only replacement value, which is 50 or 100 dollars.”

On the safety of the pet medication industry

“A normal human drug, experimental drug that’s going through testing is often tested on 5,000 to 10,000 people from beginning to end, over what could end up being a decade for the whole development of the drug. Animal drugs are only tested on 200 or 300 cats or dogs, and they are often launched in a very quick time—five or six years compared to what it could take for a human drug to be developed.”

Guest

  • John Russell, investigative reporter for The Indianapolis Star. He tweets  @JohnRussell99.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Sesame, a golden doodle owned by the family of Nimu Sirtani of Noblesville, plays in the back yard. Sesame died in 2013 after taking Trifexis, a heartworm medicine made by Eli Lilly’s Elanco division. The Sirtani family suspects that Trifexis was to blame. (Photo: Photo provided by the Surtani Family/Courtesy of The Indianapolis Star)
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Sesame, a golden doodle owned by the family of Nimu Sirtani of Noblesville, plays in the back yard. Sesame died in 2013 after taking Trifexis, a heartworm medicine made by Eli Lilly’s Elanco division. The Sirtani family suspects that Trifexis was to blame. (Photo: Photo provided by the Surtani Family/Courtesy of The Indianapolis Star)