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Euthanasia Drug Shortage Alert for Veterinary Distributor Reps

By Pam Foster
December, 2017

Veterinary practices looking to you as a resource for ordering euthanasia drugs may ask you about delayed shipping dates.

The reason is — in case you missed it — the FDA (U.S. Food & Drug Administration) reported a shortage of pentobarbital sodium with phenytoin sodium on October 17, 2017 on its website that reports Current Drug Shortages. The website simply lists “manufacturing delay” as the reason.

As of this writing, the drugs are still on the FDA shortage list.

Vet-Advantage - Current Drug Shortages FDA Website

A Virbac representative quoted in an October 20, 2017 VIN (Veterinary Information Network) article stated that their contract manufacturing organization was experiencing delays, along with the pharmaceutical manufacturer, but also said, “We are back on target and product is available on a monthly basis.”

The VIN article also noted that the affected drugs are classified as MNVP (medically necessary veterinary products), which means the FDA considers special actions to ease the problem. According to the FDA:

“Creating an action plan to prevent or alleviate an animal drug shortage. The action plan may include:

  • Holding discussions with drug manufacturers and others in the animal health industry;
  • Speeding up the animal drug review and approval process; and
  • Exercising enforcement discretion (certain situations when the FDA decides not to strictly enforce approval requirements found in the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act).”

There’s no indication of when these medications will be available.

What can you do to help practices in your area? 

First, let them know about the shortage and that you’re monitoring the situation. If they weren’t aware of the shortage, they’ll appreciate knowing. And if they were aware, they’ll appreciate any updates or suggestions you can offer. 

In addition, help the practice find alternatives.

You may have a list of alternative drug selections in your own distributor catalog, or you can check out the list of medications on Compendium. 

At Vet-Advantage, we offer access to the Compendium library.

Here’s how you can review the current euthanasia drug alternatives on Compendium. 

  1. Visit

  2. Under the RESOURCES drop-down menu in the red navigation bar, click on the option for LABELS. 

  3. When you land on the LABELS page, scroll down to locate: Small Animal Compendium

  4. Click on SEARCH LIBRARY. Next, you’ll arrive at the Small Animal Compendium Library
Vet-Advantage - Small Animal Compendium
5.  Choose to search by CATEGORIES.

6.  Then, on the CATEGORIES page, scroll down to find Euthanasia Agents. Click on that link.

7.  Click to see a list of euthanasia agent options you can review and mention to the veterinary practices in your territory. 

8.  Then, look in your distribution company’s system to see if you have access to the Compendium-listed products. If not, you can provide direction to the practice… just in case they have access, but your company does not.

Either way, you’ll be a hero for helping them find alternatives until the shortage is over.

PLEASE NOTE: The Small Animal Compendium Library is not a Vet Advantage-owned resource, but we provide access to it. It’s up to every manufacturer to provide changes and updates to the Compendium, and the information is current to the best of our knowledge. This resource is a treasure trove of information on more than 4260 veterinary products.

Topics: Distribution, DSR Facing Blog