Opioid abuse and drug shortages

Opioid abuse and drug shortages


  • Learn how to navigate veterinary challenges posed by human opioid abuse and opioid shortages.
  • Explore opioid-free and opioid-minimal alternatives for anesthesia and analgesia.
  • Get practical tools to address opioid-related concerns that arise in your veterinary practice.
Opioid abuse and drug shortages

Veterinarians administer, prescribe, and dispense opioids for very limited uses. But when our patients need these medications, it's critical that they receive them. Unfortunately, nationwide drug shortages and the opioid epidemic in the United States have impacted our ability to access important drugs.

As healthcare providers, veterinarians are concerned about the opioid epidemic and embrace our responsibility to help solve this public health crisis. Concerns about drug diversion are top-of-mind, and we follow thoughtful steps to promote the responsible use of opioids and help keep them out of the wrong hands. These steps include meticulous record-keeping and control of opioids, as well as a multi-modal approach to patient care that uses not only pharmaceuticals, but also other interventions to effectively manage pain.

Advocating for the profession

AVMA is working with lawmakers and regulators to protect veterinarians' ability to access, prescribe, and dispense opioids without compromising patient care. As lawmakers consider strategies to address the opioid epidemic, the AVMA is at the table working to ensure any policy decisions appropriately involve veterinarians and don't unnecessarily burden our profession or impede our access to medications. At the same time, we are having ongoing conversations with policymakers, drug companies, and other stakeholders to protect the needs of veterinarians and our patients until drug shortages are resolved.



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Vet shopping and drug diversion

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Reversing opioid overdoses in working dogs – Do you have a veterinarian-client relationship with a canine handler? This training video provides critical information for veterinarians who may need to provide advice by phone, especially in emergencies with a dog suffering an overdose in the field. The video was produced by the University of Illinois with contributions from the AVMA.

Opioid-sparing pain therapy in animals – Get guidance and recommendations to reduce opioid use in veterinary medicine in this white paper from the American College of Veterinary Anesthesia and Analgesia and the International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management.

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