Off label use of human approved drugs in treatment of dogs in the Republic of Serbia

Pol J Vet Sci. 2021 Sep;24(3):399-407. doi: 10.24425/pjvs.2021.138731.


Since drug companies are driven by the need to produce profit they are unwilling to make large investments in the development of new drugs if there is no market large enough to justify such investment. For this reason, veterinarians face a major obstacle - the veterinary drug market is not very profitable, which sometimes leads to not having a licensed drug available for treatment in veterinary practice. In this case, the cascade procedure allows veterinarians to, under certain circumstances, prescribe human approved drugs. The aim of our study was to analyze the pattern of human approved drugs prescription for 150 medical records of dogs participating in the survey. The results show that antimicrobial agents were the most commonly prescribed drugs for animals (50%) of all human approved drugs, and beta-lactams (38.6%) were the most widely used antibiotic classes. The most common general conditions for therapeutic use of antimicrobials in this study were digestive, skin and respiratory disorders. Our study shows that the frequency of bacterial culture, susceptibility testing and cytology was very low. Even though the off-label use of human approved drugs in animal practice is regulated by law, the results of this study indicate the need for more specific strategies and guidelines for such use. This may represent a potential for improvement by raising veterinarians' awareness toward more prudent use of human drugs.

Keywords: antimicrobials; cascade procedure; dogs; human drugs; off label use.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Bacterial Infections / drug therapy
  • Bacterial Infections / epidemiology
  • Bacterial Infections / veterinary*
  • Dog Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Dog Diseases / epidemiology
  • Dogs
  • Female
  • Hospitals, Animal*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Off-Label Use*
  • Serbia / epidemiology
  • Veterinarians / statistics & numerical data


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents