Opioid manufacturing quotas could limit access in 2020

Veterinarians could face shortages when treating patients

Syringe and bottles

Veterinary access to five Schedule II opioids could be reduced next year under a proposal by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to limit the amount of these drugs that can be manufactured in the United States.

DEA has proposed the following decreases, compared with the manufacturing levels allowed in 2019:

  • Fentanyl: reduce by 31 percent
  • Hydrocodone: reduce by 19 percent
  • Hydromorphone: reduce by 25 percent
  • Oxycodone: reduce by 9 percent
  • Oxymorphone: reduce by 55 percent.

The quotas are intended to make opioids harder to get for human drug abusers. If supply is limited, though, manufacturers often – and understandably – will give preference to needs for human medicine. Therefore it’s quite possible that such limits on production could make it more difficult for veterinarians to access these drugs when we need them to treat our patients.

The AVMA has shared our concerns with DEA officials, but we’re not optimistic at this time about the prospect of changing the proposed quotas. We’ll keep you informed as we learn more.

Find practical tools and information to help veterinarians address human opioid abuse and drug shortages at avma.org/Opioids.