Local pharmacist wants to help people save money on pet medicine

PITTSBURGH, KDKA — When I take my sick pet to the vet, I often worry that I don’t have enough money to fix the problem. A local pharmacist hopes his experience can save people time and a lot of money.

Adam Rice owns Spartan Pharmacy and its three stores, so he’s been interviewed a lot about drugs and vaccines. Little did I know, however, that Shady in the Charcoal Lab would lead to a new mission to spread knowledge about pet medicine.

Shady just turned 3, and despite her shaved patch, you’ll never know she’s just knocking on death’s door.

“She’s still recovering, but finally she’s back to being my Shady. She’s a good girl,” Rice said. She suddenly became seriously ill at the end of February.

“She was diagnosed with a condition called IMHA or immune-mediated hemolytic anemia, a condition in which the immune system attacks oxygen-carrying red blood cells in the same way that organ transplant patients attack other people’s organs. ”said Adam Rice.

Adam Rice said Shadi had tried all the usual drugs to suppress her immune system, including prednisone, mycophenolic acid and leflunomide, but none worked.

“We were going in and out of the emergency vet every seven to 10 days to give her a blood transfusion while we waited for the medicine to work,” Rice said.

Rice runs a Spartan Pharmacy, so luckily he knows more about medicine than the average dog owner. And he had personal experience too.

“Bizarrely, my previous lab, which was a chocolate lab, Bailey, had the same symptoms. The only drug that ultimately worked for Bailey was cyclosporine, but veterinarians hadn’t tried it yet,” said Professor Rice.

Novartis has developed a human version of the drug called cyclosporine, and the company has also funded FDA-approved trials for use in animals. That means veterinarians would have to first dispense an animal version called Atopica.

“And it’s only available under the brand name and about $500 a box, so it would cost her $1,000 a month to keep her on the drug. Who can really afford that?” Rice said. said.

Rice couldn’t do that, so instead of putting Shady on bed rest, he asked why he couldn’t get a much cheaper human prescription. Veterinarian Dr. Steve Gross said he wrote the script to save Shady’s life and is doing more and more of that these days.

“Some antibiotics can be a lot cheaper in general pharmacies than veterinarians. Unfortunately, especially in small stores like ours, you can’t get bulk discounts,” Gross said. .

He believes that if pet parents can find cheaper workarounds to veterinarian medications, that will help their pets in the long run.

“If you save a few bucks on medicine, those bucks could get you a blood test that you couldn’t do otherwise, an x-ray that you couldn’t do otherwise. If you don’t have to worry about ‘medicine costing $300,’ you get more diagnostic care,” Gross said.

Shadi was put on cyclosporine and began to improve rapidly. Rice wanted to share her experience on social media and on the pharmacy’s Facebook page to educate and educate.

“If veterinarians knew there was a generic version of this cyclosporine for humans and it sold for just $50 a box, they would have saved $10,000 or $12,000 if they had started doing it from the beginning. We could have,” Rice said.

Remember, pharmacists want to know if the medicine you’re filling is for dogs or cats. Animals cannot tolerate certain sweeteners, so pharmacists should be careful not to mix them. And always ask your veterinarian about cheaper alternatives or alternatives to human medicines.

“Under our direction, he ordered them for himself for his dog and indicated the proper number of milligrams per day, times, and all. And he said, ‘Look, this Goods can be very expensive, if anyone else has this problem please feel free to send me a few saying ‘I’ll take care of them’ I sent it to,” Gross said.

Thanks to Rice’s experience with Shady, Spartan Pharmacy now sells animals diagnosed with IMHLA cyclosporine for just $50 a box, 10 times cheaper than replacement animals. Dr. Gross believes this is a cost-saving and life-saving measure that all vets will support.

“All the veterinarians I know around here are doing this for a good reason. They’re trying to help the people who come with them, not just the animals,” Gross said. rice field.

Symptoms of IMHA include a steady decline in your pet’s energy. You may only be able to walk a fraction of the distance of your daily walk and find yourself out of breath by the end of the walk.

Check your pet’s gums and tongue. It should be pink, not gray, indicating that the blood is circulating normally.

And the proof of that is the thin, watery blood that is readily apparent when you take an animal’s blood test.

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