Opioid shortage expected to continue into 2019

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Opioid shortages – particularly injectable fentanyl, morphine, and hydromorphone – continue to impact veterinarians’ ability to provide appropriate pain management for patients and are anticipated to last into 2019. The shortage stems largely from upgrades being made to a Pfizer Inc. manufacturing plant. While Pfizer manufactures most of these products, some other drug manufacturers may be considering whether and how they can produce more of these medications to meet patient needs.

The AVMA has been communicating closely with both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) on this issue. These agencies have assured us that the shortage is not the result of any policy changes. For more information about which medications are in short supply, please visit the FDA’s drug shortage web page.

Following discussions with drug distributors, we understand there are, and will continue to be, limited quantities of these medications available throughout 2018. This situation is impacting both the human and veterinary medical communities. As product becomes available, it is being allocated based on historical need, so it’s more important than ever for veterinarians to keep accurate records and ensure that their distributors have complete information about their order history. Veterinarians also should carefully consider their future needs and plan accordingly.

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 this shortage situation is resolved.

In addition, the AVMA has reached out to experts in the fields of anesthesiology and pain management for guidance on alternative therapeutic options to share with our members. We anticipate making this information available shortly as part of a new section on the AVMA website dedicated to the responsible use of opioids.

The AVMA encourages veterinarians experiencing a shortage to report the information to the FDA, and use their professional judgment in treating patients with opioids and available alternatives. Consultation with an anesthesiologist may assist in identifying appropriate alternatives.


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