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WFSA works to ensure the medical value of ketamine, particularly as an anaesthetic medicine, is highlighted on a global scale.

The #KetamineIsMedicine Campaign was set up in response to calls for the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) to ’schedule’ ketamine under the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances.

As medical professionals we know that ketamine has huge therapeutic value, however it is important that we make it clear to the UN Commission and the wider public just how valuable it is. Scheduling the drug would have a catastrophic effect on safe medical care across the world, so we must work together to ensure this does not come to pass.

When a drug becomes scheduled, only government run hospitals may import ketamine, which means staff in many medical centres around the world will not be able to access the drug – particularly affecting low resource institutions in rural areas who are already the most in need.

The medical centres that are able to access ketamine will face their own problems as they must keep detailed records of how scheduled drugs are used. But it’s easy to keep records, right?

In a well-equipped hospital in a high income country, where ketamine is used relatively less often than other anaesthetic drugs, it is quite easy to keep records. In a makeshift hospital in a war zone, with constant streams of injured men, women and children with traumatised families, the constant threat of danger and access to the bare minimum of equipment, keeping exact records in not quite so simple.

International scheduling risks a chain of events that result in the manufacture and distribution of essential ketamine drying up. When morphine was similarly scheduled in India, staff became afraid of the possible legal repercussions of giving morphine to their patients, and so stopped proscribing it —resulting in medical use dropping 97%. As morphine was no longer given it was no longer manufactured, creating a chronic shortage of this essential medicine. With no safe alternative to ketamine available we simply cannot allow this to happen.


That is why it is so important to join the campaign. The more voices explaining the importance of ketamine, the stronger case we can make against scheduling it. Anaesthesiologists around the world are united in what they do and the impact they have on patients, families and communities.

Share how important ketamine and global heath is to you by posting on social media your location and #KetamineIsMedicine. Tag us @WFSAorg on Twitter and @WFSA – World Federation of Societies of Anaesthesiologists on Facebook.

Further Reading

AA Ketamine cover