BVA responds to government update on local anaesthetic shortages

Procaine hydrochloride products are widely used in farm animal medicine

BVA has responded following government moves to address shortages of products containing procaine hydrochloride, a local anaesthetic used widely in veterinary medicine, particularly farm animal medicine.

BVA moved to get assurances from the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) after some members raised concerns about procaine hydrochloride products running short due to unforeseen issues with raw materials supply. The drug is used to provide local and regional anaesthesia for a wide range of procedures including calving, lambing, caesarean operations, castration and dehorning of cattle, with demand particularly high in the spring.

In response, VMD has confirmed that a procaine hydrochloride product, Pronestesic, is currently available from suppliers, with normal UK availability of other procaine hydrochloride products expected in May 2019. Till then, vets are advised to make due diligent attempts to source a UK-authorised product before considering importing an alternative medicine.

Simon Doherty, BVA President, said:

“We’re pleased that VMD has issued some clarification to answer our concerns over procaine hydrochloride shortages. BVA had heard from some veterinary practices that they were only able to get hold of a fraction of what they needed, which would have resulted in a very acute impact on farm animal welfare. Although we had moved to get assurances sooner, we appreciate that there are formal routes for reporting and that the announcement of any shortage must be handled sensitively to avoid exacerbating the problem.

“VMD’s clarification is especially timely as this is a period of peak seasonal demand for these products. We will keep our members closely informed of any further developments.”