“The strict controls associated with the production and distribution of M99, mean it cannot simply be widely released,” he told Farmer’s Weekly.
According to veterinary pharmaceutical company, Novartis Animal Health SA, M99 – also known as etorphine hydrochloride – is chemically related to the opioid, morphine. “When given subcutaneously, M99 is 1 000 to 80 000 times more potent than morphine as an analgesic.
Its use for immobilising game animals results largely from its ability to cause catatonia at very low dose levels. Because of the great risk involved to man and animal in handling this substance, the possession and use of M99 is strictly controlled by law in almost all countries,” a document released by Novartis stated.
Wildlife vet and deputy president of Wildlife Ranching SA, Dr Peter Oberem, said that there was currently “a chronic shortage of M99” in SA. Although wildlife vets had already have been told that a batch of M99 would be available in about two weeks’ time, most said that they would run out before then,” Oberem said.
He also said that game ranchers were losing animals and revenue due to the shortage of M99. In addition, the SA Veterinary Council had enacted regulations prohibiting vets from writing prescriptions, thereby allowing non-medically qualified game ranchers and game capture operators access to M99 without the presence of a vet.
“We are hoping to be in a position to reach maximum and regular M99 production by 1 March 2017, ahead of the 2017 game capture season. In the meantime we do have emergency stocks of M99 [available].
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