In September 2018, the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) became aware that veterinarians that had relied on these products for pain control in their patients were no longer able to obtain them through their standard distribution channels, due to a recent shortage of injectable opioids and to Pfizer’s decision to restrict distribution of such products for human use only during the ongoing shortage.
CVM met with Pfizer to raise awareness about the veterinary community’s need for injectable opioids and discuss how a limited supply of product imported from other countries could be made available for use in the U.S. veterinary market. The FDA had already given Pfizer permission to import Hydromorphone Hydrochloride Injection, USP, in 2 mg/ml strength, 1 ml volume 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, USP 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.“FDA is aware that the opioid shortage has been acutely felt in the veterinary community, just as it has in hospitals and health care settings providing critical care and pain management in human medicine,” the agency wrote in an open letter to veterinarians.
Injectable opioids are used in animals to treat pain following severe trauma and to control pain during and after surgery. Adequate pain control is essential in animals, as in humans. By making these products available for veterinary use, Pfizer is helping to ensure that veterinarians have a more complete formulary of products to manage pain in their animal patients, to assist in their recovery and to minimize suffering.
Veterinarians can purchase the products through their normal distribution chains, which have been alerted that they are now available in limited supply for the veterinary market. Pfizer reports that it expects the opioid shortage to end in early 2019, and it will continue to keep these products available to the veterinary market in the interim.
Pfizer halted veterinary sales in the second quarter of 2018, but has been dealing with a supply shortage since June 2017.
Read Brenda Feller’s Opioid Shortage: What’s a Veterinary Clinic to Do?