DEA issues alert on bogus ketamine recall

DEA issues alert on bogus ketamine recall

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Oct 01, 2002

Washington-A fake letter to recall ketamine spurred a scam alert to veterinarians by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

The agency issued the warning after Fort Dodge Animal Health uncovered a spurious letter sent to a veterinarian claiming a recall of its ketamine products. Fort Dodge says that no such recall was ever authorized by the company, confirming the letter was either a hoax or a scam.

Officials say that while the phony recall letter didn't specify a return of ketamine products, it did request veterinarians to wait for further instructions. Ketamine, a DEA-controlled substance, has long been known for its human abuse potential. Over the last several years, veterinary clinics have been targeted for robberies to gain access to the drug. Ketamine, along with the other "club drugs," has become popular among teens and young adults at dance clubs and "raves." Internet Wire reports that ketamine is the fastest growing designer drug on the club scene. The news service reports that emergency room visits from illegal use of the drug have increased tenfold from 1994 to 2000.

Scott Bormann, director of companion animal business for Fort Dodge Animal Health, says the letter was littered with typographical errors, and just didn't look professional. It was enough to raise suspicion from a recipient practitioner, who forwarded the letter on to the company.

Bormann says the company does not believe these letters were widely distributed to veterinarians, since the company did not get many inquiries from veterinary practices. But it was enough for DEA to issue the alert.

"The message is to be on the lookout," Bormann adds. "When in doubt, if you get something questionable, call the company to verify it."

DEA's alert, issued by the Office of Diversion Control, says, "A letter was sent to a veterinary office advising the doctor that there may be possible side effects associated with the use of 1999-2000 batches of Ketaset." The letter claims Fort Dodge was monitoring all cases involving the side effects resulting from the drug and therefore a recall was being issued. The letter didn't ask for a return of ketamine, but did tell the recipient to "await further instructions."

DEA says that no further contact has been made to the veterinary clinic.

"The intent of the scam is unknown. It may be a way to determine the quantity of Ketaset a registrant has at his/her location as a possible target for robbery or may be a way to obtain product through a phony recall."

DEA is asking veterinarians to contact the nearest DEA Diversion Field Office if similar letters are received. A complete directory of offices and telephone numbers can be found at www.dea.gov or call (202) 307-7297.