COVID-19 pandemic contributing to shortage in medication for pets with heart problems

'I don't know what I’m going to do after tomorrow,' Vero Beach dog owner says
Posted at 8:58 AM, Dec 04, 2020

VERO BEACH, Fla. — COVID-19 is proving to take a toll on some pets, as a potentially life-saving medication for dogs with heart problems is in short supply because of production issues tied to the pandemic.

Pet owners and veterinarians who prescribe Vetmedin are working to preserve the dwindling doses they have.

Vetmedin's manufacturer, Boehringer-Ingelheim, told WPTV in the following in an email:

We continue to have difficulties meeting all demands of VETMEDIN® (pimobendan) in the U.S. market due to complexities at the production site, including significant impacts from COVID-19. Additional COVID-19-related measures to ensure social distancing in lab and production areas are demanding re-organization of teams and further process optimization. The situation continues to be volatile with major constraints in production and product release. We understand the important role VETMEDIN plays in the lives of dogs and hear pet owner’s concerns. Please be assured we are committed to resolving the supply situation as soon as possible and expect to see improvements within the first quarter of next year.

Barbara Valery from Vero Beach uses Vetmedin to help her dog, Tony.

"I would take him for a walk, and he would faint," Valery said. "At night, he would wake up gasping."

A veterinarian diagnosed Tony with heart and liver problems, prescribing him to Vetmedin.

Vetmedin, which is a prescription drug for pets with heart issues, is in short supply because of production issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Soon as he started receiving it, it was like he was cured," Valery said.

But getting a refill for Tony recently has been tough. She is down to two more doses and said she is having to call other veterinarians to see if they have extra doses as her primary veterinarian is struggling to keep the medication on the shelves.

"I don't know what I'm going to do after tomorrow," Valery said.

Veterinarians are trying to be creative to get by with the doses they have.

Associate veterinarian Myles Rawley works at Stuart Sound Animal Hospital.

"We heard from the company that there might be a shortage back in August, but we really haven't seen it affect our shelves until the last few weeks," Rawley said.

Rawley said they have run out of the smaller doses, which are prescribed to smaller dogs. They are now giving larger pills to owners and allowing them to cut them into smaller doses until they get the smaller pills back in stock.

Myles Rawley, associate veterinarian, speaks about Vetmedin shortage
"It's been a priority to figure out where to get it and how soon," Stuart Sound Animal Hospital associate veterinarian Myles Rawley said.

The challenge is not knowing when they will get their next shipment of Vetmedin.

"It's been a priority to figure out where to get it and how soon," Rawley said.

She urges owners to work closely with their veterinarians and pharmacies until supply levels become replenished.

"Be proactive and try to get as much as you can right now," Rawley said.