Purdue University reported in late October its plans to offer a residency program in veterinary clinical pharmacy practice. The program, set to begin July 2015, aims to provide pharmacists special training in animal health. Purdue’s College of Veterinary Medicine and College of Pharmacy are co-sponsoring the program.
Demand for pharmacists with training in veterinary care and therapeutics has grown alongside increases in the treatments and medicines available for pets, said Brian Shepler, director of advanced pharmacy practice experiences and assistant dean for experiential education in Purdue’s College of Pharmacy.
“Pharmacists and veterinarians share the same goal for their patients: to offer the best and most successful treatments to them,” said Shepler, who helped develop the new residency. “Whether filling a prescription for Frank or Fido, a pharmacist’s role is to ensure that a medication and its dosage are safe and appropriate for a patient, to check for any potentially harmful interactions and to offer advice on ways to minimize discomfort from side effects. This residency provides training to pharmacists so that they can help ensure an animal’s safety and provide optimum care.”
In addition to a growing need for those trained to dispense medications to animals, there is an increasing demand for those who can prepare the medications, said Wil Gwin, the pharmacy director at Purdue’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital who also helped develop the new residency program.
“As you can imagine, there is a great variation in prescribed doses from Chihuahua to Great Dane and from dog to cat to bird or guinea pig,” Gwin said. “The drug manufacturers don’t provide the medication in each of these doses, so many of the medications dispensed to animals must be specially prepared for each prescription. There also are different toxicities that need to be taken into account. A sweetener that helps your child’s medicine taste better can be fatal to dogs.”
Purdue says that graduates of its residency program will have knowledge and skills that will make them valuable assets to the veterinary pharmaceutical industry, regulatory agencies, college of veterinary medicine and colleges of pharmacy.
Last year, 36 pharmacists applied for the two available positions within such residencies in the nation, Gwin said. This new program will make Purdue University as the nation’s third university to offer a residency program in veterinary clinical pharmacy practice.
As part of Purdue’s program, residents will spend one year in rotations in the various departments of Purdue’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital. They will learn the anatomy, physiology and different ways drugs are metabolized and act within different species, and to prepare high-quality, safe and effective compounded preparations for animal patients, according to Purdue. Residents will also learn the regulations and ethical responsibilities of drug use in animals and will gain experience in designing and performing clinical pharmacology research.
The additional training and education will prepare residents for certification by the Society of Veterinary Hospital Pharmacists and as a diplomate of the International College of Veterinary Pharmacy, according to the university.