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As of Jan. 1, all prescriptions of Schedule 2, 3 or 4 controlled substances now have to be reported through a monitoring program.

The Franklin County Commission passed an order early last month to join with St. Louis County in its Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) that is web-based and will require the prescription information to be recorded.

According to the policy, there are 201 medical professionals in the county who are licensed to prescribe the controlled substances, and they will have seven business days after the prescription is issued to enter the information into the database.

Not included in the PDMP requirements are the dozen veterinary clinics in the county, which potentially could prescribe the Schedule 2, 3 and 4 controlled substances to animal patients.

Washington veterinarian Dr. John Stoltz says there are at least three controlled substances he prescribes to patients, including the painkiller tramadol, diazepam, a generic for Valium, and cough suppressants containing codeine.

“I don’t prescribe them often or in large doses,” Stoltz said. “It would all depend on weights of the patients. Some doses would even be higher since dogs have different metabolisms than humans.”

Stoltz explained he has a Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) number and most prescriptions he orders are sent to pharmacies, but there are times the owners of his patients do take the medicine home directly from his office.

If the pharmacies are not required to report the controlled substances because they are for animals, there would be no way of knowing if the controlled substances were not being used for their intended purpose.

Abuses

In his nearly 39 years of practice, Stoltz said he has only encountered a few cases of pet owners abusing the system.

“A few years ago there was a guy going to several veterinarians in the county with his dog,” Stoltz said. “Something about him seemed off, so I called a few other doctors and we compared notes. I don’t know if the guy was taking the drugs or selling them, or what.”

Stoltz said he contacted the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department and the man was arrested.

“Another time I had a family member of someone just out of rehab call me,” Stoltz said. “They said she would be asking for pills because her dog was scared of storms. They assured me the dog wasn’t afraid of storms.”

Law Enforcement

Despite the instances recalled by Dr. Stoltz, county law enforcement officials say they have not directly encountered animal prescriptions being abused, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.

Both Sheriff Steve Pelton and Multi-County Narcotics and Violent Crimes Enforcement Unit Commander Scott Reed said they have not run across prescriptions for animals while on drug cases, but since the pills are the same, they may not know the origins.

Both men said the potential is there for the system to be abused.

States

Despite several attempts by legislators in recent sessions, Missouri is still the only state in the nation without a statewide PDMP in place.

Of the 49 states with PDMP laws, only about one-third require veterinarians to participate in the program.

Only 17 states, including Illinois, require veterinarians to participate in PDMP programs.