Health Canada warns of shortage of euthanasia products for animals, veterinarian group says not to worry

TORONTO – Health Canada warns there will be a global shortage of drugs for euthanasia for animals due to an explosion at an overseas manufacturing facility, but according to the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA ), pet owners in Canada shouldn’t worry.

Tuesday, Health Canada issued an alert for vets, saying they learned earlier in 2021 that an incident at a manufacturing site would lead to a global shortage of sodium pentobarbital, which is “the active ingredient used in most animal euthanasia products,” explained alert.

“A shortage is expected to impact existing Canadian supply from mid to late 2021 and continue through mid 2022,” the agency said.

“Health Canada is working in collaboration with the Canadian Institute of Animal Health (CAHI), CVMA, drug manufacturers, importers and distributors to mitigate the impact on the veterinary health system and on Canadians in need of care end of life for their animals / pets.

The CVMA told in an email that it was aware of the shortage before Health Canada’s public announcement.

“Drug shortages do arise from time to time, so it was no surprise, but given the importance of this particular drug to the welfare of animals in Canada, it immediately became of great concern. ”Said CVMA.

The exact products that are affected include Euthanyl, Euthanyl Forte and Dorminal, all of which are used with “dogs, cats, horses, cattle, laboratory animals and birds,” according to Health Canada. Euthanyl and Euthanyl Forte are also used with mink.

The shortage is worrying because being able to offer euthanasia is an important part of veterinary services.

“Euthanasia is an extremely important aspect of veterinary practice that enables parents of pets and their veterinarians to ensure that a beloved animal has a smooth and painless end of life,” said L ‘CVMA. “It is (a) a special privilege for veterinarians to oversee and manage the euthanasia of an animal and a responsibility that veterinarians take very seriously. “

ICSA also published an alert on the situation at the end of May. They said the manufacturing site needs to recover from the explosion, which occurred in December 2020.

“As this manufacturing site works to restore operations, the shortage of the active ingredient is starting to impact the global supply of euthanasia products,” the statement said.

Health Canada and the CAHI did not provide any further details regarding the explosion. The CAHI is a trade association whose members are responsible for the majority of animal health products sold in Canada.

He instructed Canadian veterinarians to administer only the recommended amount of sodium pentobarbital and order only the amount of euthanasia drugs they would need in their practice, avoiding stockpiling that could exacerbate the shortage for others. veterinarians.

It is an opinion that Health Canada and CVMA have echoed.

The CVMA said it “recommends that veterinarians retain supplies where possible and share supplies with their colleagues, according to regulations, when needed.”

He added that he was working on guidelines for alternative methods of euthanasia that do not use sodium pentobarbital, in case alternatives are needed.

“The CVMA, through an expert advisory committee that includes veterinary pharmacists, anesthesiologists, palliative care experts and species specialists, develops resources and advice on products, methods and protocols that can be used as alternatives to sodium pentobarbital products for euthanasia that will be widely shared. throughout Canada’s veterinary health system, ”they said. on their website.

The CVMA told that pet owners “shouldn’t worry” that there may not be a worthy end for their pet.

“Existing supplies of pentobarbital are being managed with caution, other supplies are sought and veterinarians can use alternative methods of euthanasia that are as humane and effective as sodium pentobarbital. “

Health Canada added in its statement that it “is currently evaluating whether alternative euthanasia products authorized abroad could potentially be imported on a temporary basis to alleviate this shortage.”

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