More opioids available to veterinarians during ongoing shortage

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The Food and Drug Administration announced Dec. 13 that the agency has worked with Pfizer Inc. to help alleviate a shortage of certain injectable opioids used to treat pain in animals by facilitating the availability of limited amounts of products labeled for human use.

In September 2018, the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine became aware that veterinarians who had relied on these products for pain control in their patients were no longer able to obtain the products through their standard distribution channels because of an ongoing shortage of injectable opioids and Pfizer's decision to restrict distribution of such products for human use only.

CVM met with Pfizer to raise awareness about the veterinary community's need for injectable opioids, according to a CVM update, and to discuss how a limited supply of products imported from other countries could be made available for use in the U.S. veterinary market. The FDA already had given Pfizer permission to import hydromorphone hydrochloride injection, 2 mg/mL in 1-mL ampules, to help alleviate the ongoing opioid shortage in human medicine. As a result of CVM's recent discussion with Pfizer, this product is now available in limited quantities for pain management in animals.

In addition to hydromorphone, Pfizer also has made morphine sulfate injection in vials and ampules available to the U.S. veterinary market. These products are currently in short supply but will continue to be available to veterinary practitioners when supply increases, according to the update.

Veterinarians can purchase the products through their normal distribution chains, which have been alerted that these products are now available in limited supply for the veterinary market. Pfizer reports that it expects the opioid shortage to end in early 2019, and the company will continue to keep these products available to the veterinary market in the meantime.

Related JAVMA content:

Pfizer suspends opioid sales to veterinarians (Oct. 15, 2018)

Frustration mounts over opioid shortage (July 1, 2018)