We've all seen movies in which gangsters are treated by (paid or coerced) veterinarians in order to avoid law enforcement in hospitals. How bad are animal-grade pharmaceuticals for human health, in real life? I assume that they are held to decent standards of purity, and sterility. How do these compare to human-grade drugs? Are they OK, say, for emergency situations?
Some problems with using veterinary drugs by humans:
1) It's illegal.
Any deviation from the label, by veterinarians or lay persons is an illegal use...(American Veterinary Medical Association)
2) It can be harmful for your actual condition.
If you wrongly self-diagnose yourself, a certain drug that is not intended to treat your actual condition, can dangerously interact with it.
Example: fish antibiotics:
...most upper respiratory problems, for example, have the same symptoms. But many of the diseases are viruses and don't respond to antibiotics....taking an antibiotic can complicate the course of that event (U.S. Department of Defense, 2002).
3) It can cause significant side effects.
Drugs intended only for animals have not been tested in humans, so they can have significant side effects in humans (due to active or added substances).
Closantel is a halogenated salicylanilide with a potent anti parasitic activity. It is widely used in management of parasitic infestation in animals, but is contraindicated in humans.
A 34-year-old man with depression was referred to our center with progressive loss of vision in both eyes 10 days after unintentional ingestion of three 500 mg tablets of Closantel (BMC Ophtalmology, 2016).
Acepromazine is a phenothiazine that is used exclusively in veterinary medicine for multiple purposes.
A 54-year-old woman intentionally ingested 950 mg of her dog’s acepromazine. Within 3 h of ingestion, she developed central nervous system and respiratory depression along with hypotension requiring non-invasive ventilation and vasopressors (Journal of Medical Toxicology, 2015).