Hi stranger! Signing up for MypetMD is easy, free and puts the most relevant content at your fingertips.

Get Instant Access To

  • 24/7 alerts for pet-related recalls

  • Your own library of articles, blogs, and favorite pet names

  • Tools designed to keep your pets happy and healthy



or Connect with Facebook

By joining petMD, you agree to the Privacy Policy.

petMD Blogs

Written by leading veterinarians to provide you with the information you need to care for your pets.

The Daily Vet by petMD

The Daily Vet is a blog featuring veterinarians from all walks of life. Every week they will tackle entertaining, interesting, and sometimes difficult topics in the world of animal medicine – all in the hopes that their unique insights and personal experiences will help you to understand your pets.

Drug Shortages: A Problem for Pets, Too

Have you heard about the problems that human physicians are having getting the drugs they need to treat their patients? The stories surrounding people undergoing chemotherapy are especially heartbreaking.

At a time when patients and their families should be focusing on their own well-being, they instead have to man the phones searching for the drugs that are keeping them alive. And even when they find them, sometimes necessitating trips of hundreds of miles to be treated, the stress, uncertainty, and delays surely must have an adverse affect.

The problem is not limited to human medicine. Veterinarians and pet owners are facing a similar situation with drugs that are in short supply or are not being made any more. In some instances, good alternatives do exist, but even in these cases veterinarians are forced into using drugs that they are not familiar with. This can increase the chances of a medical mistake occurring.

I’ve put together a list of some of the drugs that are currently in short supply that should be of particular concern to cat and dog owners.

  • Immiticide — the only drug licensed to treat heartworm infections in dogs is not currently in production. I hate to think of the number of animals that might die if this situation isn’t rectified soon.
  • Vetsulin — a type of insulin manufactured specifically for pets that is no longer being made. This has forced owners and veterinarians into the costly and potentially dangerous position of having to switch to a different type of insulin.
  • Chemotherapy drugs such as cisplatin and doxorubicin that are used to treat a variety of cancers.
  • Antibiotics — including some types of amikacin, azithromycin, ciprofloxacin, metronidazole, and gentamicin.
  • Pain relievers like buprenorphine and butorphanol.
  • Acyclovir — an antiviral drug sometimes used to treat feline herpes infections.
  • Propofol — a type of injectable anesthetic.
  • Acetazolamide — used in the treatment of glaucoma.
  • Aminophylline — used to relieve airway constriction and help animals breathe.
  • Injectable atropine sulfate and glycopyrrolate — used to keep an animal’s heart rate up during anesthetic procedures.
  • Azathioprine — a therapy for autoimmune diseases.
  • Bupivacaine with epinephrine — a local anesthetic used to block the pain of declaw procedures, incisions, etc.
  • Injectable diazepam — used to treat seizures, as part of anesthetic protocols, and more.
  • Injectable furosemide — used to reduce fluid build-up in the body (e.g., in the lungs as a result of congestive heart failure).

The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) has a very comprehensive list of drugs that are currently in short supply. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is another good source of information, particularly for veterinary-only products.

To help prevent potential problems with your own pets, make sure to order your refills well before they are needed so you always have at least a few weeks of medications on hand. This is a good habit to get into even in the absence of a drug shortage so that you are prepared for natural disasters, unexpected trips, etc. Don’t hoard medications, however. This simply makes the problem worse for other owners. If a problem arises with the availability of one of your pet’s medications, talk to your veterinarian about alternative suppliers and/or treatment protocols.

Has anyone out there faced a drug shortage? What did you do?

Dr. Jennifer Coates

Pic of the day: A day in the life of conedog by sparktogaphry

dog drugs, drug shortages in vet medicine, drugs for pets

Comments  5

Leave Comment
  • Ack!
    09/12/2011 07:24am

    Although I haven't been in the situation where one of my critters have needed a drug that isn't available, I see several on your list that I've used successfully in the past.

    This is a frightening and desperate situation.

  • 09/12/2011 08:44am

    I got an email this week from a friend in rescue, desperate to find immiticide for one of her fosters. We didn't have any and can't get any. :( This shortage thing is getting ridiculous and scary. I've no doubt pets are dying as a result.

    I didn't know there was a shortage of glyco and atropine, though. Damn.

  • Drug Shortage
    09/12/2011 12:32pm

    After a conversation with the FDA, I found that Immicide is available every where in the world except the US. I am ordering from Canada.There is no problem with the drug. The FDA has to inspect and validate the new manufacturing plant which could take up to 12 months.

  • 09/14/2011 08:23am

    What Canadian firm do you order from?

    I work with a shelter where we currently have two HW+ dogs that we cannot treat because we can't get immiticide. I anticipate more coming in, as we don't HW test prior to pulling from local pounds.

    We do have them on a "slow kill" protocol.

    This is going to cause a problem with adoptions, as not many people want to adopt a HW+ dog.

  • 09/14/2011 11:25am

    Canada Pharmacy, 1-888-254-3025 They are expensive, but I am doing it anyway. 79.35ml, 2 vials, $158.70. So, for my Corgie rescue I need 3ml, but I have to buy four ml.
    It only comes in packages of 2 ml. Also, slow kill doesn't always work for high Class 2 or Class 3. Our boy is a Class 3. Best of luck with your little ones. Linda

Meet The Vets

  • Lifetime Credits:
  • Today's Credits:
Hurry Before All Seats are Taken!
Enroll
Be an A++ Pet Parent! Take fun & free courses to earn badges & certifications. Choose a course»

Top Current Topics

PETMD POLL

When did your dog/cat last have a routine vet checkup?