In their daily course of practice, veterinarians need access to the clinical “tools” necessary for the prevention and relief of animal suffering. However, clearly we do not have a drug for every species we treat and every indication (which is part of the reason why FDA’s Extralabel Drug Use rules are so important in veterinary medicine). But increasingly, veterinarians are finding that some drugs that have traditionally been available in the marketplace are now suddenly on back-order or in short supply.
So what’s AVMA doing about this? AVMA advocates for our members and we make our members aware of key shortages and recalls. Examples of communication efforts include a helpful web page on drug recalls and shortages and a recent JAVMA article that highlight this issue. Key volunteer AVMA governance groups (Council on Biologic and Therapeutic Agents and its Clinical Practitioners Advisory Committee) have discussed this very topic on several occasions, sharing their individual clinical observations with the FDA and with the animal health industry.
What can you do as a practicing veterinarian? 1) You can alert the manufacturer when you think you are seeing a shortage of a drug. Manufacturers want to know what their clients (veterinarians) are demanding in the marketplace. 2) FDA has advised that you can report concerns about shortages of medically necessary veterinary drugs. Veterinarians may contact the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine via the CVM Communications Staff at AskCVM@fda.hhs.gov or (240) 276-9300.
Although it’s been said that drug shortages are a “fact of life” in veterinary practice today, contacting drug manufacturers directly to express concerns about specific shortages is a step individual veterinarians can take. As an association, AVMA continues advocating for our members and communicating your concerns with the animal health industry and the FDA about drug availability and other key issues that are important to veterinarians.