We all know what happens when the drugs we use in practice become controlled substances. We’re faced with more paperwork and tighter Drug Enforcement Agency restrictions in terms of access, use and logging of our drug inventory, and how we dispose of them.
The DEA is considering placing propofol on Schedule IV of the Controlled Substances Act. Considering how important propofol is in veterinary practice, the AVMA has concerns about what this might mean for veterinarians. At the same time, part of the AVMA’s mission is to improve human health, so we were also concerned when we saw the DEA’s alarming information about the dangers of propofol when it’s used inappropriately. More specifically, the DEA cited research showing that 28 percent of propofol abusers die from this abuse.
That’s why we recently sent a letter to the DEA expressing our understanding of DEA’s scheduling of drugs with high-abuse potential, while also expressing our concerns that adding propofol as a Schedule IV controlled substance may result in a reluctance on the part of veterinarians to use this important induction agent. The burdens associated with registration, record keeping and, especially, waste disposal in accordance with DEA rules may, in fact, lead to decreased use of this important drug.
In our letter, we stressed the importance of having in place a predefined process that would allow for the convenient disposal of any wasted propofol prior to scheduling it as a controlled substance, if that is to happen. As part of our request, we reiterated to the DEA that the veterinary profession is already committed to responsible drug disposal by pointing them to our Best Management Practices for Pharmaceutical Disposal. We’ll keep you posted as news on this issue develops.