The RCVS have issued new guidance about the ordering, use and storage of controlled drugs (CD). This coincides with ketamine being placed in Schedule 2, such that safe custody and CD records are now mandatory. This rescheduling will mean that faxed or electronic requisitions are no longer possible. Furthermore, new regulations mean that all orders for CDs will require a specific electronic form that is printed, signed by hand with the inclusion of the RCVS number of the veterinary surgeon. The original document must be provided and electronic ordering (or signatures) are not acceptable. Somulose® (Quinalbarbitone) remains exempt from safe custody requirements.

Of particular relevance to equine practitioners will be guidance over storage in vehicles, where a locked glove compartment or secure box affixed to the vehicle maybe considered suitable storage. The guidance recognizes professional judgment is essential when considering policies for controlled drug storage within a vehicle, especially when it is necessary to leave such medicines in vehicles overnight. Vehicle mounted boxed are unlikely to satisfy BS2881:1989 for CD cabinets and therefore members may wish to contact their Controlled Drug Liaison Officer (CDLO) for further advice. It is important that separate CD records are kept for each CD box, including those kept in vehicles.

BEVA lobbied against ketamine rescheduling, since we were concerned it would impact on animal welfare if members were discouraged from carrying ketamine ‘just in case’ of emergency. We are therefore pleased that the RCVS have provided this degree of clarity and believe that the guidance is practical and applicable to all ambulatory veterinary surgeons.

Other important information in the guidance includes:

  • Procedures for dealing with discrepancies in CD records.
  • The use of combination locks and key safes for CD boxes
  • A recommendation that Tramadol be kept in safe custody
  • Guidance over destruction of unused products.


The full guidance can be accessed here