Propofol In The News




Propofol in the NewsPropofol in the NewsPropofol in the NewsPropofol “popped” into the mainstream news in conjunction with Michael Jackson’s untimely death, and I imagine many of us in the veterinary profession let out a groan as we anticipated the news that was just recently released in the AAHA NewStat online newsletter (January 5, 2011 Volume 9 Issue 1) that propofol may be regulated in the future as a Schedule IV controlled substance. Propofol “popped” into the mainstream news in conjunction with Michael Jackson’s untimely death, and I imagine many of us in the veterinary profession let out a groan as we anticipated the news that was just recently released in the AAHA NewStat online newsletter (January 5, 2011 Volume 9 Issue 1) that propofol may be regulated in the future as a Schedule IV controlled substance. staff-safariJanuary 28, 2011Katherine Dobbs, RVT, CVPM, PHRJanuary 28, 2011, 7:45 a.m., EDT

Propofol “popped” into the mainstream news in conjunction with Michael Jackson’s untimely death, and I imagine many of us in the veterinary profession let out a groan as we anticipated the news that was just recently released in the AAHA NewStat online newsletter (January 5, 2011 Volume 9 Issue 1) that propofol may be regulated in the future as a Schedule IV controlled substance.

What grabbed my attention in the article was the mention that there were outcries from the veterinary profession against such a move. So being curious, I delved into the entire article to see the debate for myself.

The newsletter quoted the DEA as saying, "In a survey of academic anesthesiology programs, 18 percent reported diversion or abuse of propofols. Twenty-eight percent of the reported abusers of propofol had died due to propofol overdose. The individuals who died were affiliated with health care facilities in which there were no pharmacy or security mechanisms to control access to propofol."

This appears to be a genuine concern, with the drug being targeted for abuse, and 28 percent of those abusers losing their lives. So I wanted to know why this was not adequate information to turn the veterinary profession to favor the DEA’s proposed move. I was hoping to hear that we have proved or suspect that propofol abuse is not an issue in veterinary medicine, that we have no concerns of it becoming an issue, and that we feel safe without needing these additional measure enforced by the DEA.

What I found instead, however, was personally a bit disappointing. Why did the veterinary profession object? Basically because of the added time and energy to process the correct documentation for a scheduled drug.

Having managed a few practices myself, and worked with many others, I understand how this documentation process can be a royal pain for those involved. There are so many details: Where do we keep the drug? Who keeps the key(s)? Who keeps the count? How do we train the team to follow these guidelines? I get it, I really do.

But, one statement in the article that stuck in my mind was about the pets’ lives that have been saved from being able to access propofol quickly and easily in the practice. So what does that say about the controlled drugs we are already using, that they are not worth the trouble it takes to use them on our patients?

What if we determined that the seizing dog needed to find something more reasonable then phenobarb to take because we just don’t have the time to get the meds out of our lock box? I know, I risk making a few people, maybe a bunch of people, upset by this blog. The good thing is, we’re all entitled to our opinion, and I’m just providing one perspective of this issue that should be considered perhaps.

Again, I would just feel better if we decided we don’t need to control propofol in our practices, because we are so good at using it the proper way. Instead, we are saying that we don’t want to spend the time and energy it takes to follow the rules when using scheduled drugs. That just seems to be, well, a bit weak in my humble opinion.

1/27/2011 4:41 PM
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