Nearly 14,000 join petition opposing tougher laws on ketamine

by Veterinary Practice News Editors | December 15, 2016 7:00 am

Keeping pressure on agencies like the World Health Organization and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the World Small Animal Veterinary Association reported that its online petition to ensure continued veterinary access to ketamine has nearly 14,000 signatures.

Using ketamine to sedate animals for procedures such as spay/ neuter, radiograph positioning and pain management is critical to the overall care and health of patients. However, countries like China have called for stricter controls of ketamine, citing poor international oversight that has led to abuse and illegal use.

Efforts to add strict controls appear to have been kept in check by the veterinary community’s opposition. Realizing that China may not relent, WSAVA is looking to obtain 15,000 online signatures at[1].

In addition, the organization’s Global Pain Council has produced informational tools for download at the WSAVA website[2].

The WSAVA petition piggybacks on an earlier call to action in 2015 by the American Veterinary Medical Association[3], which asked members to contact FDA to voice concerns about possible changes in ketamine’s status.

AVMA, WSAVA and others argue that ketamine is already a Schedule III drug in the United States and subject to the strict controls that prevent its misuse.

The WHO Expert Committee on Drug Dependence has stated that ketamine abuse is not a global public health threat and that control would limit access as an anesthetic. In March, the U.N. Commission on Narcotic Drugs drew a similar conclusion based on input from the world medical and veterinary communities.

“Ketamine is a safe anesthetic which can be used without oxygen, ventilators, electricity and the support systems required for other products, making it the only anesthetic suitable for both medical and veterinary use in lower- and middle-income countries,” said Walt Ingwersen, DVM, WSAVA’s president-elect and a member of the Global Pain Council.

“If developing countries were denied access to it, which would be the effect of international scheduling, the effects on veterinary medicine, human health and animal welfare would be devastating,” Dr. Ingwersen added.

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Originally published in the October 2016 issue of Veterinary Practice News. Editor’s note: Original print article indicated more than 11,000 people have signed the WSAVA petition. Online article has been changed to reflect the latest numbers. Did you enjoy this article? Then subscribe today![4] 

  1. 15,000 online signatures at
  2. WSAVA website:
  3. 2015 by the American Veterinary Medical Association:
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