Veterinarians urge United Nations not to restrict ketamine

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The World Veterinary Association, which counts the AVMA among its members, has joined with the World Medical Association and others in urging the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs not to restrict the availability of ketamine.

China had proposed placing ketamine under schedule I of the international Convention on Psychotropic Substances, the most restrictive category. After pushback, China proposed placing ketamine under schedule IV, the least restrictive category.

The World Health Organization has concluded that ketamine is an essential medicine widely used as an anesthetic and does not pose a substantial enough risk to place it under international controls. Many countries with abuse problems have introduced national controls on ketamine; it is a schedule III drug in the United States.

According to a statement from the World Veterinary Association, “WVA strongly objects to re-classification of ketamine, as this could lead to ketamine no longer being available to veterinary and medical clinicians, especially in remote areas.”

At a March 13 hearing of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, China proposed deferring action on ketamine pending further study, and the commission agreed.