An online petition launched as part of a campaign to secure access to ketamine as an essential veterinary medicine has secured more than 11,300 signatures – with 15,000 the next milestone.

WSAVA is calling on veterinarians around the world and anyone with an interest in veterinary, and, human medicine to sign the petition to ensure access to ketamine
Ketamine is an essential medicine and should not be placed under international scheduling, says the WSAVA petition at

The WSAVA is calling on veterinary professionals around the world, as well as anyone with an interest in veterinary and human medicine, to sign the petition to ensure access to ketamine in the face of lobbying by some countries, principally China, to have it put under international scheduling.

According to the association, proposals for international control stem from the misconception that ketamine is merely a “recreational drug”. The WSAVA says this is inaccurate and devalues its huge contribution to human and animal medicine.

Risk to ketamine

Dr Walt Ingwersen, WSAVA president elect and member of the WSAVA’s Global Pain Council, explains: “In 2015, the WHO Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD) stated the abuse of ketamine does not cause a global public health threat and control would limit access for those using it as an anaesthetic.

“This view was confirmed at a meeting of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs in March 2016, helped by strong support view from the global medical and veterinary communities.

“However, China has repeated its view that ketamine should fall under international scheduling and we have no doubt that it will raise the issue again. This means the risk to ketamine remains.”

Perfectly safe

He added: “Ketamine is a safe anaesthetic which can be used without oxygen, ventilators, electricity and the support systems required for other products, making it the only anaesthetic suitable for both medical and veterinary use in lower and middle income countries.

“If developing countries were denied access to it, which would be the effect of international scheduling, the effects on veterinary medicine, human health and animal welfare would be devastating.”

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