Shortage of pain drugs results from manufacturing issue

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In mid-December 2017, the Food and Drug Administration was reporting a shortage of the pain relief drugs fentanyl, morphine, and hydromorphone.

According to FDA officials, the shortage resulted from upgrades being made at a Pfizer Inc. manufacturing plant in Kansas and is unrelated to any federal policies on opioids or manufacturing quotas for controlled substances.

A Nov. 27 letter to customers from Pfizer Injectables states, "Due to longer than expected timelines for upgrade work required at our McPherson manufacturing facility, the currently anticipated full recovery dates for prioritized prefilled syringes (PFS) have moved to 1Q19 and deprioritized syringes have moved to 2Q19. We will continue to manufacture and deliver select presentations throughout the upgrade work taking place but do anticipate backorders and product shortages."

Some morphine injectables are on the prioritized list, but all fentanyl and hydromorphone injectables are on the deprioritized list. Details about the shortage are available on the FDA webpage on drug shortages at

The AVMA has received several inquiries about the shortage and has expressed concern to the FDA about the impact on animal health and welfare. The FDA is working to rectify the situation. The AVMA encourages veterinarians experiencing a shortage to use their professional judgment in treating patients with available resources.

Related JAVMA content:

​FDA announces actions to combat drug shortages (Dec. 15, 2013)

Presidential order targets drug shortages (Dec. 15, 2011)

On back order (Nov. 15, 2010)