Govt addresses shortage of anaesthetic used in livestock medicine

The drug is used to provide local and regional anaesthesia for a wide range of procedures, including calving
The drug is used to provide local and regional anaesthesia for a wide range of procedures, including calving

The government is moving to address shortages of products containing procaine hydrochloride, a local anaesthetic used widely in livestock medicine.

The veterinary industry has 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.

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has now sought assurances from the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD).



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.

Untill then, vets have been advised to make due diligent attempts to source a UK-authorised product before considering importing an alternative medicine.



Simon Doherty, BVA President, said: “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.”