Scooter's Supplies for Chronic Renal Failure (CRF)

Tips on Buying Infusion Supplies 

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  • Prescriptions: IV fluids always require a prescription in the US.  (In Canada and Mexico, IV fluids are over-the-counter.)  Most vendors will also insist on a prescription for IV admin sets but some will not.  A few states including Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island require prescriptions for needles and syringes. It's not unusual for mail order firms to insist upon needle/syringe prescriptions even though they may not be legally required.  Have your vet make out an indefinite quantity (PRN) prescription for each of the items you'll buy in the next year and FAX or mail it to the vendor.  The prescription is good for a year.  Many states require vets to give you a prescription under veterinary and/or pharmacy laws/regulations.  If your vet refuses to write a prescription, see Vet refuses to write a prescription.
  • Ask Your Vet.  Before you run off to purchase supplies, ask your vet for help.  Most vets sell fluids by the bag and it's a very good idea to first make sure that you are capable of administering fluids to your pet at home.  If you experience problems, consider hiring a vet tech to come by and coach you through a session or two.  Folks who have done this have reported paying $15-$25 per vet tech home visit.  Some vets have reasonable prices on fluids and some have volunteered to sell cases of fluids to their clients for their cost or their cost plus a small handling charge.  Kudos to those vets!
  • Check Local Sources.  Just about everyone who has tried has found lactated ringer's solution (LRS) or Normosol-R locally at a significant savings over mail order.  Correspondents have reported paying from $10-$30 for a case of 12 liters of LRS.  Only a handful have had success finding IV admin sets and needles locally, however.  When I was still infusing my Scooter Cat, I bought LRS at my local CVS and needles and IV sets via mail order. Check the local fluids link for more information and instructions.  There are some "tricks" to obtaining fluids locally.
  • PVC vs. Non-PVC Bags. A chemical plasticizer, DEHP, is used in the manufacture of PVC (polyvinyl chloride) IV bags and lines to soften them.  But DEHP is a known carcinogen ... studies suggested that it causes liver cancer in laboratory animals.  There is no definitive proof that DEHP from PVC bags and lines will cause harm to infused animals but many prefer the non-PVC bags and IV admin sets for peace of mind.  See the Health Care Without Harm web site for more information.  All Terumo brand IV bags are DEHP-free.  Other providers, including Hospira and Baxter, now have fluids available in DEHP-free bags, but these bags may be more costly than their bags manufactured with DEHP.
  • Price Comparisons.  Be sure to include all shipping, handling and other fees in comparing prices between vendors.  For example, some vendors charge an additional fee for low dollar orders! 
  • Vendor Location.  Don't forget to consider the vendor's shipping location when ordering fluids -- it will determine the time to your location.  Use the UPS Shipping Calculator to estimate delivery time.
  • Don't Wait.  If your cat is responding well to fluids treatment, don't hesitate to obtain bulk fluids locally or from a mail order vendor.  My vet charged relatively humane prices but ordering supplies via mail order saved me about $1300 a year over my vet's prices!
  • MVI, or for a No Fluids Order. If your current needs do not include fluids but rather a box of needles and/or IV sets, consider these three vendors.  See table 4.
  • Reuse IV Sets.  It's perfectly permissible to reuse IV admin sets by transferring them from a depleted fluids bag to a new one as long as you maintain sterility.  Some will reuse a set up to six times.  Others will change to a new set every month or so.
  • Don't Reuse Needles. Disposable needles are not designed to be reused.  They  lose their sharpness immediately and are easily contaminated.  Since the cost per needle is only 4-7 cents each, there's no real economic incentive to reuse them.
  • Join the Feline CRF Support Group. The ability to ask a question of folks in the same situation makes all the difference.  The Group can address both big and small concerns.  When I first joined, the Group sent me to Direct Medical, reducing my cost for a bag of Lactated Ringer's Solution from the $12 charged by my vet to $1.89 plus shipping.  The Group also patiently explained how to remove the guard on Terumo needles after I had stabbed myself twice.

This web site is a product of me, David Jacobson. The information presented here is not guaranteed.  Contact the vendors listed directly for their current prices and policies.  Feel free to link this page to other pages and web sites dealing with the medical treatment of cats and dogs.  And please contact me with any updated information or additional vendors, or your comments, criticisms and suggestions.  I appreciate your help.

This web site first went online in April 2000.  It was dedicated to Scooter in September 2003.

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