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Pet Owners Find New Challenges Filling Prescriptions Over New Opioid Laws

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Curbing Minnesota's opioid crisis means owners of sick pets will make more trips to their pharmacies. The state's new opioid law went into effect at the beginning of the month, and parts of it have forced veterinarians to clear up confusion.

For eight years, Boo Boo has been by Bobby Wilbur's side. A degenerative disc disease often has the cocker spaniel out of commission.

"It gets to the point where he can't go up steps," Wilbur said.

A prescription for Tramadol helps with the pain, which Wilbur would fill a few times a year.  During his last visit stop at the pharmacy, that changed.

Part of Minnesota's new opioid law places a time limit on when prescriptions for people and pets can be filled.

"They wouldn't refill my medication because it had been more than 30 days since his last refill," Wilbur said. "This doesn't make any sense to me it means I will have a larger quanity on hand than I normally would."

Minnesota's Board of Pharmacy has fielded questions in the last few weeks from doctors, veterinarians, patients and pet owners -- all trying to better understand the new pain pill law and the long list of provisions that comes with it.

"An opioid prescription needs to be filled within 30 days of the time it's issued for the first fill, and then if it can have refills it needs to be filled every 30 days after that," Board of Pharmacy executive director Cody Wiberg said.

Wilerg explains the 30-day rule is meant to bring patients back in to be re-evaluated to see if an opioid is still necessary. Since, sadly some have accessed medicine for themselves through their vet office.

"There's still way too many people dying from opioid abuse," Wiberg said.

The board has questioned some of the language and plans to make changes next session, meaning, at least for now, Wilbur will be back at his pharmacy every month to make sure Boo Boo finds help when it is needed.

A prescription for Tramadol can be phoned into a pharmacy by a vet so it wouldn't require another appointment. But some stronger drug classes will before a refill is granted.

Click here for answers of frequently asked questions of Minnesota's new opioid law.

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