‘Gold-Standard’ Painkiller Restriction Relaxed

‘Gold-Standard’ Painkiller flunixin Restriction Relaxed


[avatar user=”AbbyDickinson” size=”medium” align=”center” link=”file”]Everything Horse News Reporter, Abby Dickinson[/avatar]

‘Gold-Standard’ Painkiller Restriction Relaxed

Restriction on the sale of flunixin, a ‘gold-standard’ painkiller used for horses, has now been relaxed by Britain’s Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD).

In July, the VMD suspended all sales of injectable flunixin and other equine medicines, due to them containing diethanolamine. The suspension of drugs containing diethanolamine occurred as the International Agency for Research on Cancer identified the chemical as “possibly carcinogenic to humans”.

Worries of disruption to medical practice were heightened.  The suspension of the drug meant veterinary practices could run out of supplies. The BEVA stated that the “VMD failed to consult the equine veterinary industry” on the withdrawal of such an important drug, which may have had drastic implications on equine welfare.

The BEVA’s rethink urge has lead to the VMD relaxing it’s restriction on the drug, later stating;


(We) have not suspended any products containing diethanolamine used for companion animals only.”

Vets may therefore continue to prescribe products containing diethanolamine while stock is available,” the VMD continued.

The relaxation of the restriction has restored short-term access to the medicines, as stock of any drug containing diethanolamine will be distributed with a ‘caution in use’ letter. The alleviation of restriction has also come as reminder to veterinary professionals to ensure the horse’s food chain status is checked before prescribing the product.

Although the president of the BEVA, Jon Pycock, still expresses concern toward the steps that were taken before flunixin’s suspension.

Wholesalers were unable to meet the demands of the veterinary profession and clinical use of this medicine was disrupted within 24 hours of the VMD’s initial announcement.”

We are surprised by the regulator’s lack of awareness of availability in the supply chain and question why there was no consultation with the veterinary sector before the suspension was enacted.”

Tim Mair, BEVA junior president and equine surgery specialist, also added that he thought the VMD believed that flunixin could be substituted for other veterinary medicines. Mair stated that this was not the case as flunixin is a unique medicine in pain and sepsis management in horses.

Both Pycock and Mair would like to see the VMD fast-track applications for modifications in the product’s licencing to ensure equine vets have continued access to diethanolamine products. Pycock further criticised the VMD, suggesting no consideration was taken for the impact on animal welfare, with the suspension of the drug.

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