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Another Piece of the Puzzle? Understanding South Dakota Veterinarian's Response to the Opioid Epidemic

Updated April 29, 2019
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Russ Daly

Professor, SDSU Extension Veterinarian, State Public Health Veterinarian

Coordinated by: Russ Daly
Written collaboratively by: Jessica D. Ulrich-Schad, Ph.D., Wei Gu, MS, Julie Yingling, Ph.D., and Jill Ayres, DVM

While some headway has been made in addressing supply-side causes of the opioid epidemic, including with the pharmaceutical industry, providers of human healthcare, and human pharmacies, there is evidence that more scrutiny is needed with regards to misuse and abuse of opioid prescriptions obtained from veterinary clinics1. Researchers at South Dakota State University (SDSU) wanted to understand the extent of this problem in South Dakota in order to better prepare veterinary clinics to deal with this epidemic. Using data from a survey of licensed veterinarians in the state who prescribe opioids in late 2018 and early 2019, we found that veterinarians are largely aware of the increasing opioid problem, have modified their practices because of it, and are dedicated to finding a balance between treating their animal patients in the most effective way while also avoiding contributing to the opioid problem. Many veterinarians are also interested in receiving additional training on opioid use and abuse signifying the opportunity for educators and policymakers to provide additional resources to further address another piece of this epidemic facing U.S. communities.