Veterinarian perception of the intentional misuse of veterinary medications in humans: a preliminary survey of Idaho-licensed practitioners

J Rural Health. 2002 Spring;18(2):311-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1748-0361.2002.tb00893.x.


The intentional administration of veterinary medications to humans is a form of medication misuse that has not been systematically studied. Veterinarians are the health practitioner group most likely to have knowledge about this problem and to be approached by the public for advice. For this preliminary study, questionnaires were mailed to 1,077 veterinarians registered with the Idaho Board of Veterinary Medicine regarding their knowledge and perceptions of this type of misuse; 392 (36.4%) completed surveys were returned. The most frequently reported veterinary medications misused in humans were analgesic, anti-inflammatory medications, anti-arthritis medications, or both; systemic antibiotics, topical anti-infectives; and topical corticosteroids. People involved with rodeo, horse racing, and health care; rural area residents; and those lacking health insurance were perceived to be the groups most likely to misuse veterinary drugs. Veterinarians rated the following as likely reasons for misuse: having an independent self-sufficient attitude, convenient availability of veterinary medications, lower cost, and belief that veterinary medications are stronger than comparable human medications. Human misuse of veterinary drugs may be more common than many health practitioners realize. Limitations of this study include the response rate, sampling of veterinarians licensed in only one rural state, and reliance on veterinarians' recall of relevant instances of misuse and their perceptions of groups most likely to misuse these drugs and why. These limitations make it difficult to determine if the problem is being under- or over-represented relative to the general population. However, regardless of the magnitude of the problem in the rural population, the general population, or both, the potential for harm is great. Patients with risk factors for this form of misuse should be questioned by their physician in a nonthreatening manner to detect use of veterinary medications and to provide an opportunity to inform them of the risks.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adverse Drug Reaction Reporting Systems
  • Analgesics
  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Drug Utilization / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Services Misuse / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Idaho / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Rural Population / statistics & numerical data
  • Substance-Related Disorders / prevention & control
  • Veterinarians / psychology*
  • Veterinary Drugs*


  • Analgesics
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Veterinary Drugs