|The internet and emerging technology are changing the way vets care for man’s best friends in the 21st century.
Increasingly, vets are relying on veterinary websites to spread pet care health and safety tips, while also relying on social media and search engines to deliver new pet owners to their storefronts. Studies show that 80% of Millennials used the internet to find their current vet. But the internet isn’t just changing the way vets do business; it’s also changing the way they practice veterinary medicine itself.
Now, European regulators are relying on digital technologies to improve the way vets monitor the safety of popular medications. This June, the European Medicines Agency released new recommendations for vets to track the safety of veterinary medicinal products after they go to market, known as post-market surveillance or pharmacovigilance.
Around the world, regulators say that adverse reactions and unsafe products are under-reported. The EMA wants to use new electronic databases to compile important statistical data to improve veterinary safety. The EMA also warned that even though new digital data is crucial to the future of pharmacovigilance, anecdotal evidence spread through new media can sometimes be suspect.
For a cautionary tale, look no further than a recent viral controversy over heartworm medication in the United States. Pet owners around the country posted warnings and complaints about a popular heartworm medication called Trifexis, claiming the medicine killed or injured their dogs.
And although the Food and Drug Administration and other regulators urged caution, the viral outcry became so severe that the FDA released a statement pledging to investigate the drug’s effects.
In a statement the FDA said: “It is very important to realize that reports of adverse events do not necessarily mean that the product caused the event.”
No matter what the FDA determines, the digital warnings about Trifexis represent the latest frontier of pharmacovigilance in the 21st century, and a game-changing new status quo for vets worldwide.