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AVMA Wants No Changes With Ketamine

International pressure could make the anesthetic drug less accessible “or even inaccessible,” AVMA says.

Ketamine is a fast-acting drug used for sedation, anesthesia and pain management.

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Calling ketamine “critical for veterinary medicine,” the American Veterinary Medical Association today urged the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to help fight an international proposal that could impose stricter controls on the anesthetic and pain management drug.

A letter signed by Ron DeHaven, AVMA’s CEO and executive vice president, stated that moving ketamine hydrochloride injection from Schedule III to Schedule I status in the United States “would result in this essential drug being less accessible—or even inaccessible—to the veterinary profession.”

A World Health Organization committee in mid-November is scheduled to consider a Chinese proposal to place ketamine under strict international control along with nine other drugs used in human or veterinary medicine.

Combating abuse and diversion of the drugs is at the root of the discussion. Dr. DeHaven, DVM, MBA, wrote that “strict regulations and safeguards are in place to help prevent” the illegal use of ketamine.

More than 130 AVMA members responded to a call to submit comments to FDA. The comments included first-person accounts of how ketamine is used on pets, large animals and wildlife.

“We reiterate that ketamine is a key component of veterinary medical anesthetic and pain management protocols worldwide, and any regulatory action that limits its availability to the veterinary profession would gravely impact animal health and welfare,” DeHaven stated.

The World Health Organization’s 2013 “Model List of Essential Medicines” identifies ketamine as a vital injectable anesthetic.

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