Pfizer suspends opioid sales to veterinarians

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Pfizer halted sales and shipments of injectable opioid drugs to veterinary clients this July, citing supply shortages resulting from manufacturing delays.

Pfizer, the largest U.S. manufacturer of injectable opioid products, doesn't anticipate resuming sales to veterinary customers until May 2019 at the earliest. In the meantime, the company has prioritized distribution of its injectable opioid products to human hospitals, where the drug shortage is also acutely felt.

"We value all customers and understand the importance of these medications and regret the current need to prioritize shipments to hospital and surgical trading partners," said Steve Danehy, director of corporate affairs and global media relations for Pfizer.

"Pfizer is making every effort to restock the market and provide product in a manner that is equitable, efficient, and compliant," Danehy continued. "While production on opioid products has restarted, we will not fully recover until (the second quarter of) 2019. We don't plan to send product to veterinarians until we fully recover."

As previously reported by JAVMA News, the ongoing drug shortage is partly a consequence of manufacturing problems at a Kansas production facility purchased by Pfizer in 2015. Within two years, veterinarians started seeing their supplies of fentanyl, hydromorphone, and morphine dwindle and dry up.

As a result, veterinarians are rationing their remaining drug supplies and relying more on nonopioid alternatives.

Related JAVMA content:

What veterinarians need to know about the opioid epidemic (Oct. 15, 2018)

Frustration mounts over opioid shortage (July 1, 2018)

DEA provides update on opioid shortage (June 1, 2018)