Flurbiprofen-Containing Topical Pain Medications: FDA Alert - Illnesses and Deaths in Pets Exposed to Prescription Topical Pain Medication

[Posted 04/17/2015]

AUDIENCE: Health Professional, Pharmacy, Consumer, Veterinary

ISSUE: FDA is alerting pet owners, veterinarians, health care providers and pharmacists that pets are at risk of illness and death when exposed to topical pain medications containing the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) flurbiprofen. People using these medications should use care when applying them in a household with pets, as even very small amounts could be dangerous to these animals.

The FDA received reports of cats in two households that became ill or died after their owners used topical medications containing flurbiprofen on themselves to treat muscle, joint, or other pain. The pet owners had applied the cream or lotion to their own neck or feet, and not directly to the pet, and it is not known exactly how the cats became exposed to the medication. The products contained the NSAID flurbiprofen and the muscle relaxer cyclobenzaprine, as well as other varying active ingredients, including baclofen, gabapentin, lidocaine, or prilocaine.

BACKGROUND: Two cats in one household developed kidney failure and recovered with veterinary care. Two cats in a second household developed signs that included reluctance to eat, lethargy, vomiting, melena (black, tarry, bloody stools), anemia, and dilute urine. These two cats died despite veterinary care. A third cat in the second household also died after the owner had stopped using the medication. Veterinarians performed necropsies on the three cats that died and found evidence in the kidneys and intestines that were consistent with NSAID toxicity.

RECOMMENDATION:  FDA recommends that people who use topical medications containing flurbiprofen take care to prevent their pets from being exposed to them, even in ways that may seem unlikely to cause problems. Health care providers who prescribe topical pain medications containing flurbiprofen, and pharmacists who fill these prescriptions, should advise patients with pets to take care to prevent exposure of the pet to the medication.

[04/17/2015 - Center for Veterinary Medicine Update - FDA]

Page Last Updated: 04/17/2015
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