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FDA Warns of Illnesses and Deaths in Pets Exposed to Prescription Topical Pain Medications Containing Flurbiprofen

In April, 2015, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration alerted pet owners, veterinarians, health care providers and pharmacists that pets are at risk of illness and death when exposed to topical pain medications. Although the drug discussed in the media was the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) flurbiprofen, the topical preparations also contained the muscle relaxer cyclobenzaprine, as well as other varying active ingredients, including baclofen, gabapentin, lidocaine, or prilocaine.

People using these medications to treat muscle, joint, or other pain should use care when applying them in a household with pets, as even very small amounts could be dangerous to these animals. The FDA has received reports of cats in two households that became ill or died despite veterinary care after their owners used topical medications containing flurbiprofen. 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.

We advise patients with pets to take care to prevent exposure of pets to all medications.

  • Store all medications safely out of the reach of pets.
  • Ask your pharmacist where the topical medication should be applied, and mention if you have a pet. If possible, it is best to apply medication to an area that is covered with clothing and not likely to contact the pet. Avoid leaving any residues of the medication on clothing, carpeting or furniture that may contact the pet.
  • Consult your health care provider on whether it is appropriate to cover the treated area.
  • If your pet shows signs such as lethargy, lack of appetite, vomiting, or other illness, seek veterinary care for your pet and be sure to provide the details of the exposure.



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