Mon. Jul 22nd, 2024

‘It’s horrible:’ Second C.O. dog owner tells NewsChannel 21 of tragic experience with prescribed drug Librela

(Update: Adding comment from pet owner, petition organizer)

Bend PD K9 that passed in May had last Librela dose 2 days before being euthanized

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) — Since NewsChannel 21’s report earlier this week on the veterinarian-prescribed osteoarthritis drug Librela that a Central Oregonian said led to his dog’s serious illness and passing, others from around Central Oregon and the US have reached out with similar sad, even tragic issues.

“It’s just when you have a dog that sick or, you know, you want to do the best, you want to do everything you can to help them. and to be misinformed and have your dog suddenly die if it’s horrible,” said La Pine resident Anne Colombero said Friday.

Colombero’s dog, Ben, was only 7 when she had to have him put him down after he received a Librela injection.

“She checked his legs, and she noticed that he did have a neurological issue with his back leg,” Colombero said. “He didn’t flip his foot forward, so she thought it would be better with this medication.”

Since NewsChannel 21 first reported on the death of Sasha owned by a bend man, three other dog owners, including Colombero, contacted us with similar stories.

Librela is a once-monthly treatment given in a veterinarian’s office to help relieve pain caused by osteoarthritis. According to the American Kennel Club, side-effects include urinary tract infections and skin infections. Pre-existing neurological conditions can also worsen.

“He was really itchy, and I told him about that, as it could have been a side-effect, and I was given prednisone for the itching,” Colombero said. “And then you had a second shot – and one week later he just woke up, and he was completely paralyzed – all four legs completely paralyzed.

Two Facebook groups have been created focused on issues with the drug. One has 20,000 members, the other almost 40,000.

Pamela Boyd, a former veterinarian technician for 10 years and the organizer of the petition., said of Librela: “That either works or it doesn’t – and the worst thing that could happen is that it doesn’t work. That’s the worst thing that could happen, and that’s typically what they’re saying because that’s what they’re told to do.”

Boyd watched her 12-year-old dog experience a reaction to Librela.

“I have a video of like, three days before and three days after – one where he’s running around with a toy in his mouth, like a puppy, and the next where he can’t walk,” Boyd said.

According to a European database about 20 thousand animals treated with Librela, about 15,000 had adverse reactions. Of those, 10,000 dogs had systematic disorders and 4,000 neurological disorders. 

Colombero said, “You’re not supposed to do your own research on a drug that your veterinarian recommends. They’re the experts, but they are given information from the drug company.”

Boyd added, “I just wish there was more of like a black box warning surrounding it, more of reflecting the actual side-effects that are occurring, and not being written off as being just ‘old dog symptoms.’ Because we know our dogs, and this is not it’s not just an old dog scenario.”

The pet owners tell NewsChannel 21 they’ve had to do their own research on Librela. They argue the studies that were conducted were from a very small population, and the large population of dogs experiencing adverse effects is not being considered.

Friday evening, NewsChannel 21 learned that the 13-year-old former Bend PD K-9, Zoey, that we reported had passed in May, received her final Librela dose two days earlier, according to her owner, retired K-9 officer Don Barber. But Barber also praised the drug, saying it “helped her have a better quality of life.”

 “Zoey was on Librela for four months, but she became totally paralyzed after her last dose the day before,” he said. “On Monday, she had a dose after being overly sore (she had osteoarthritis). By Monday evening she was falling down. Tuesday, she was paralyzed from about mid-body and lost control of her bowels and bladder. I called the vet, and they came to my home and euthanized her on Wednesday.” 

“She was on Gabapentin and Gallaprant, which she had been on for years,” Barber explained. “But she had built up a tolerance, so my veterinarian suggested Librela as an alternative. She was only the second patient they’d prescribed it to.” 

Currently, there is a petition advocating for additional testing on the drug. The petition has garnered over 7,000 signatures since February.

Librela (bedinvetmab) is a newer pharmaceutical drug in the veterinarian world, having been approved for use in the US in 2023, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.

According to the American Kennel Club, a not-for-profit organization since 1884, side-effects from the drug Librela include a skin reaction at the injection site, urinary tract infections and bacterial skin infections.

As of April, the FDA had received more than 3,300 adverse event reports for Librela. The FDA says there is no certainty the drug caused those reported adverse events, adding that it may have been related to an underlying condition.

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