AVMA Pushes FDA to Protect Ketamine Availability

Protect access to critical medications

The AVMA has submitted formal comments asking the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to work to protect veterinarians’ ability to continue using ketamine as needed to treat patients and  thanked  he member veterinarians who helped us in the effort.

The AVMA asked its members to join in submitting comments on a very tight deadline set by the FDA, which is preparing comments to the World Health Organization (WHO) regarding the abuse liability and diversion of ketamine hydrochloride and nine other drugs. In response, more than 130 members submitted individual comments to the FDA and copied the AVMA in order to guide it as it crafted the organization's feedback. Members and non-members alike also shared the AVMA’s call to action and template letter on social media, and circulated them to members of other veterinary organizations.

Here are some of the key points the AVMA included in its comments to the FDA, which were submitted on October 15, 2015:

  • Ketamine use is critical in veterinary medicine. Its availability to U.S. veterinarians must be protected in order for us to continue providing high-quality care to our patients.
  • Ketamine is a key component in veterinary medicine anesthetic protocols worldwide, and any regulatory action that limits its availability to the veterinary profession would gravely impact animal health and welfare.
  • Strict regulations and safeguards are in place in the United States to help prevent the illegal use of ketamine. U.S. veterinarians use the drug in accordance with these regulations.

Ketamine is not currently controlled internationally under either the Psychotropic Convention or the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. The WHO Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD) has reviewed ketamine several times and recommended each time that ketamine not be placed under international control. However, the committee plans to review ketamine again, along with a number of other drugs, at its upcoming 37th meeting in Geneva, Nov. 16-20.

The November review relates to a proposal pending before the U.N. Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) to control ketamine under Schedule IV of the 1971 Psychotropic Convention. Earlier this year, the AVMA became aware that China was proposing that ketamine be placed in Schedule I of the Psychotropic Convention. The AVMA advocated against this change, working with the World Veterinary Association and the World Medical Association, and the proposal was amended to suggest a Schedule IV designation. The CND then postponed consideration of that amended proposal, asking the WHO to gather more information.