Practitioner Updates

Pharmacist’s Corner: COVID-Related Drug Shortages


While drug shortages have been a part of our daily life for some time, COVID-19 has caused some new drug shortages. These shortages have two possible causes:

  1. Manufacturing interruptions of the active ingredients and/or the final product both of which often occur in China and India.
  2. Increased need by human hospitals.

While any medication could be susceptible to manufacturing interruptions, there are specific medications that fall into the second category. COVID-19 treatments are not medications used in veterinary medicine, so our concern lies with supportive medications used for patients on ventilators. The following are medications that you may want to conserve and have alternative options for.

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  • Propofol
  • Fentanyl
  • Hydromorphone
  • Methadone

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  • Midazolam
  • Dexmedetomidine
  • Famotidine


One option is to use veterinary-labeled products instead of human products. For example, PropoF­lo28 is a veterinary-only product, so it’s not going to be ordered by human hospitals. However, if all veterinarians switch from using human products to using veterinary ones, then that can put strain on the veterinary supply.

I recommend evaluating your pain management and anesthesia protocols to identify various options. For example, if you use a lot of fentanyl, consider whether some patients may be good candidates for bolus dosing or CRIs of other medications or possibly using a fentanyl patch.

We will likely be dealing with shortages of the above medications and potentially others for many months, so it’s good to develop a plan now.

By Lauren Forsythe,
Medication Dispensary Coordinator