Today’s Veterinary Business Staff
Everything a veterinarian should know about properly prescribing and storing opioids and disposing of them has been summarized in a new resource guide published by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Veterinary Medicine.
The online article, available at http://bit.ly/2vMtZlF, is intended to help veterinary professionals “educate themselves about the safe use of opioids,” said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D.
“We recognize that opioids and other pain medications have a legitimate and important role in treating pain in animals, just as they do for people,” Dr. Gottlieb said. “But just like the opioid medications used in humans, these drugs have potentially serious risks, not just for the animal patients but also because of their potential to lead to addiction, abuse and overdose in humans who may divert them for their own use.”
He noted that the only FDA-approved opioid for use in animals is Recuvyra, a fentanyl product.
Recuvyra is not being marketed by the manufacturer, Dr. Gottlieb said, and “Carfentanil, which is 100 times more potent than fentanyl, is no longer FDA-approved for use in animals after Wildlife Laboratories withdrew the application.”
“Companies are making business decisions about discontinuing the marketing of these products in the context of the current epidemic and with the goal of wanting to avoid the possibility of products being obtained or used illegally,” the FDA commissioner said. “The result is a lack of products that are FDA-approved specifically for use in animals, leaving veterinarians to prescribe products originally approved for use in humans when they determine a need for opioid pain medications for pets.”
The FDA is encouraging veterinarians to use alternative drugs for pain management when appropriate.
“The FDA knows that veterinarians are also on the front lines when it comes to combatting the opioid epidemic that has gripped much of our country, and that keeping opioids secure in the veterinary practice, while retaining access for patient who need pain control, is a primary concern,” said Siobhan DeLancey, RVT, MPH, the Center for Veterinary Medicine’s senior adviser for strategic initiatives.