Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Here's an excerpt from a beautiful eulogy Romney wrote for Beata. I think our old dog, Tuco, might miss her more than anyone. He’s REALLY old, seems out of it a lot, but when we were going to the vet before she died he was totally engaged and has been very clingy (which is exceedingly odd and not a trait natural to “Mr. Bitter”) since she did not come home.
For the past 9 years (minus one) Beata has been my friend, family, and love. She has never judged me for my poor culinary or film choices – or even been mad when I tell her not to bury her bones in the garden (because she always did it anyway). She never wanted anything more than to be loved and not abandoned. She was the cutest, sweetest, most loving little dog. My heart aches that I will never see her wag her body at me again, or get to cuddle on the couch with her while Edwards is on business trips. Edwards and I lost a vital member of our family last night, and Tuco lost his “girlfriend” who brought him back so much “psych”.
Anyway, this is a health blog so let’s get back to business. I didn’t do my homework on the medications she was taking post surgery, and this killed her. I figured—incidentally with the same rationale I used when I hurt my back and didn’t check on that medication—how bad can a couple of weeks of anti-inflammatory meds be? Bad, as it turns out.
What we have is the Vioxx scandal for dogs. The only reason we don’t hear more about it is that it’s for dogs, though it did make the Washington Post in this article:
Vioxx Debate Echoed in Battle Over Dog Drugs
And the medication that kicked it off, Deramaxx, is like candy compared to the one that killed B, Previcox. When I Googled it on the night she died I was shocked that EVERY SINGLE WEB SITE THAT WASN’T TRYING TO SELL IT WAS A WARNING OF ITS DANGERS. The net is littered with stories exactly like ours, of healthy animals seeing a vet for an injury and dying due to complications with the medication. Some of these pages also contain angry letters from vets (or perhaps pharmaceutical PR people but that’s another story) stating that slamming the medication would only serve to hurt other dogs. Well, at least it might hurt the ones that don’t die.
Being more of the scientific type, I dug into studies. Turns out even Merial’s (maker of Previcox) own studies on the drug are highly alarming. Most that they used were done on three day post surgery groups. In these groups many small dogs died (so it shouldn’t be used on dogs under 12lbs) and many had internal bleeding. Then there were some longer 180 days studies. In these many dogs died, almost all had side effects and internal bleeding. That is the POSITIVE research.
Then there are the FDA reports on drug safety. Here we see how Previcox has become safer through the years. In 2005 and 2006 it was killing over 10% of its users. Now it’s down to just over 1%. This is not a typo. How would you feel if every time you popped some ibuprofen there was a 1 in 100 chance that you’d die?
It’s not like we’re trying to cure an aggressive form of cancer where the patient would die without the medication. We’re just reducing some swelling. So why are vets shilling something almost certain to have side effects with a high risk of death? Even more so, why aren’t there at least strong warnings given to the customers? The answer, I suppose, comes right back around to Vioxx, which doctors continued to prescribe as it was killing thousands of people even though there were plenty of safe alternatives. Okay, that’s not an answer. An answer would be speculative so I’ll let you make one up. The only fact we know for certain is that it happened with Vioxx, it’s happening now with Previcox and Deramaxx, and, for those of you who don’t have pets, it’s still happening with other medications that are killing people.
Ironically that last article showed up the night B died. I will deconstruct it later this week. The point today is to warn you against the dangers of NSAIDS for both animals and humans. NEVER TAKE (OR GIVE TO YOUR PET) ANY MEDICATION THAT YOU HAVEN’T RESEARCHED AND ASSESSED THE RISK. Not even for something that seems innocuous, and not even for one day. Those in the medical field may call you alarmist (they often use analogies like “you aren’t qualified to understand the science”) but I call it being informed. And whether or not your information is “faulty” dead is still dead. You don’t need a degree to understand that.
pics: beata and tuco and, what we thought, might be one of HIS last trips to the coffee house where they were fixtures. mr. bitter is not happy. climbing won't be the same knowing b's not watching out for me.