FDA announces availability of certain drugs to veterinarians

Published on December 26, 2018


Ongoing opioid shortages have made it difficult for many veterinarians to provide optimal pain management and relief to our patients. Now, the FDA has released good news: Certain drugs that had been previously restricted to veterinarians will now be available in limited supply.

The drugs hydromorphone and morphine, which were previously restricted by Pfizer for human use during the opioid shortage, will now be available for pain management in animals.

The AVMA has been working closely with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) on the issue of drug shortages. We have ongoing conversations with these and other agencies, to underscore the importance of access to drugs used by veterinarians and to emphasize the effects of opioid shortages on veterinary practitioners and their patients.

Just like human doctors, veterinarians rely on opioids to provide pain relief, pain management, and anesthesia for our patients. The ongoing shortages have impacted veterinarians’ abilities to administer appropriate care to our patients and have led the profession to explore alternative methods. The availability of these drugs will allow veterinarians to treat our patients with the compassion and care they deserve.

According to the FDA announcement, “Veterinarians can purchase the products through their normal distribution chains, which have been alerted that they are now available in limited supply for the veterinary market. Pfizer reports that it expects the opioid shortage to end in early 2019, and it will continue to keep these products available to the veterinary market in the interim.”

We will continue to work with the FDA, DEA, drug manufacturers, and drug distributors to advocate for the needs of veterinarians and our patients until the shortage is resolved.

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