The FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine released a warningthis afternoon to veterinarians, pet owners, healthcare providers, and pharmacists that pain creams containing flurbiprofen have sickened five cats across three households, with three of the cats dying. The cats suffered kidney and intestinal damage consistent with poisoning by a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agent (NSAID), the drug class shared by flurbiprofen with the more common oral pain reliever, ibuprofen.
Two unusual aspects of the warning bear mentioning: First, the creams were prescribed to the pet owners, not the cats. Owners report using the creams on their neck and feet but the warning makes no conclusions as to how the cats were exposed.
Second is that the creams and lotions are reported to also contain the muscle relaxant cyclobenzaprine (sold alone as oral Flexeril) as well as other varying active ingredients, including baclofen, gabapentin, lidocaine, or prilocaine. Baclofen and gabapentin are used to treat neuropathic pain while lidocaine and prilocaine are local anesthetic agents. While these drugs could also be toxic to pets depending on the dose, the common thread in the FDA warning and pathology reports is the flurbiprofen.