Is It Safe For Humans To Use Animal Medicines?

Friday, April 17th 2009, 9:46 pm
By: News On 6

By Tara Vreeland, The News On 6

TULSA, OK-- Times are tough and people are looking for any way to save money.  It's not unheard of for people to take medications prescribed for animals, but is it safe?

People are looking for a cheaper way to do anything, to save money anyway they can. It's not an uncommon practice for veterinarians, ranchers, or those who work with animals.

"I've heard of it. People just know that amoxicillin is amoxicillin. Penicillin is penicillin," said Kyle Jefferson of Tulsa Feed.

"Amoxicillin and other meds are generally the same antibiotics that humans use," said Dr. Jana Layton with Riverbrook Animal Hospital.

It may seem like a way to pinch pennies. Cutting out the middleman, the doctor in this case, and going to the feed story to self-prescribe antibiotics for an infection.

"They are just trying to take a shortcut I guess," said Kyle Jefferson of Tulsa Feed.

The warning on a bottle of penicillin clearly states it's not for human use. And, it is illegal to sell medicine meant for animals for human consumption.

"People are not going to know what dose to use and they are not going to know what the appropriate antibiotic is or requires what they are wanting to take it for is even necessary to have an antibiotic," said Dr. Jana Layton with Riverbrook Animal Hospital.

And, an incorrect diagnosis or incorrect medicine is a health risk. Because medicine meant for livestock may not get the same level of scrutiny from the FDA as human drugs do.

"Causing, I wouldn't imagine death but definitely gastric upset, vomiting, diarrhea. You know, make yourself sick.  As well as being more susceptible to other infections because you've taken the wrong antibiotic or the wrong dose," said Dr. Jana Layton.

Sometimes the best way to get healthy is the old fashioned way.

"Spending the money to get the appropriate doctor for the appropriate treatment because they are going to end up spending less money in the long run," said Dr. Jana Layton.

It's also important to note that taking an inappropriate antibiotic or too many could make your body resist the antibiotic in the future.

 One way to save money is to ask the pharmacist for the generic version of the medication.