WSAVA urges veterinarians to sign ketamine-support petition

April 21, 2016

International organization wants to protect access to drug in wake of classification challenges.

Despite a recent decision by the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (UN CND) to reject the international scheduling of ketamine, the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) remains concerned that access to ketamine is under threat. The group asks veterinarians to support its campaign to ensure continued access to the drug for veterinary and human medicine, according to a release from WSAVA Global Pain Council.

“Ketamine is a safe anesthetic which has been used worldwide for more than 50 years,” says Sheilah Robertson, DVM, board member of the WSAVA's Global Pain Council. “It does not depress respiration or the circulation and can be used without oxygen, ventilators and electricity supply and?support systems required for other anesthetics. These characteristics make it the only anesthetic suitable for both medical and veterinary use in the developing world.”

Ketamine?is used to treat trauma, traffic and sporting injuries, and those resulting from natural disasters and conflict zones, Dr. Robertson says. It is often the only product that can be used for dog and cat neutering initiatives, making it critical for the control of zoonotic diseases, such as rabies, she says.

A number of countries, led by China, have been campaigning to have ketamine internationally scheduled. This would prevent access to the drug in most developing countries, as the documentation required for internationally scheduled drugs can be prohibitively bureaucratic. As a result, says the WSAVA, it would put a complete stop to surgical treatment in many parts of the world, including dog and cat neutering programs.

While the WHO Expert Committee on Drug Dependence and the UN CND have both recently advised against placing ketamine under international control, China has announced that it will lobby for the decision to be reversed at future meetings.

To sign a petition to keep ketamine available, visit chn.ge/1RFSou6. For more about the WSAVA's ketamine campaign, visit wsava.org/educational/global-pain-council.