Industry, Government Groups Focus on Veterinary Education

Several groups – including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), AAHA, and some drug manufacturers – have identified a communication gap between doctors and clients, and the information that is shared.

In the coming months, veterinary professionals will see and hear about educational efforts and brochures that focus on disseminating benefit/risk information to clients in ways that laypeople can understand. Industry efforts will also educate veterinarians on more effective ways to include clients in general conversations about their pets’ health.

A significant number of calls (specifics to be released soon) received by the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine hotline from 2003 to 2005 dealt with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and most of those people said they had not been informed of potential side effects. Pet owners told FDA professionals that they had not received Client Information Sheets (CIS).

NSAIDs have received significant consumer media attention recently as have ongoing questions about vaccine frequency and vaccine-induced sarcomas. These issues combined with attempts to introduce non-economic damages in many states and an increasing emphasis on legal issues in veterinary medicine, illustrate the need for more effective conversations between veterinary professionals and clients that ensure comprehension as well as compliance.

The 2003 AAHA Compliance Study showed an existing gap between what doctors think they have conveyed – about patient care – and what pet owners understand.

And while the FDA’s focus is on NSAIDs, Pfizer Animal Health and other drug manufacturers recognize the need for better communication between clients and veterinarians.

“Through conversations with pet owners [we learned that] they did not believe they were fully aware of the benefits or risks [associated with drugs] and when side effects occurred they felt blind-sided, and lost trust in their veterinarian,” said Kristina Wahlstrom, MS, VMD. Wahlstrom involved in a Pfizer initiative known as FRANK that will include CIS materials as well as communication training to heighten awareness of the need for more communication. “We have to convince people that there is an issue,” Wahlstrom said. “Many veterinarians don’t believe that there’s more information that they could give patients.”

Stories on this topic will be published in NEWStat and several other AAHA venues in the coming months. Stay tuned for more information.