HPRA commences procedure to consider precautionary restrictions on the use of veterinary medicinal products containing the excipient diethanolamine

Notice type: Advisory

Date: 27/07/2018

The European Medicines Agency's Committee for Medicinal Products for Veterinary Use (CVMP), which is the committee responsible for preparing opinions on all questions concerning veterinary medicines in the European Union, has reviewed and given an opinion on the risk to consumers from the use of diethanolamine in veterinary medicines. The CVMP considered that it is not appropriate that the excipient is included in the list of substances considered as not falling within the scope of Regulation 470/2009 (the ‘out of scope’ list); this Regulation legislates for the use of substances that are administered to food-producing animal species (the maximum residue limit legislation). The opinion of the CVMP on 19 July 2018, which is directed at all EU Member States, is that it is not possible to rule out a risk for consumers of food produced from animals treated with veterinary medicinal products containing diethanolamine. 


Consequently, as a precautionary measure, the HPRA has commenced a review process that will consider the possible suspension of the marketing authorisations for the 6 products concerned that are marketed in Ireland. This procedure, which commenced on 27 July 2018, provides for consideration by the HPRA of representations from the companies that are directly concerned by this opinion of the CVMP, as well as consideration of the matter by the HPRA’s independent expert advisory committee, the ACVM


The HPRA will update this notice during the course of this review process. 

The 6 products involved in this review process are: 

Product name
Marketing authorisation number
Marketing authorisation holder

Finadyne 50 mg/ml Solution for Injection.
Intervet Ireland Limited.

Cronyxin Injection 50 mg/ml Solution for Injection
Bimeda Chemicals.

Flunazine 50 mg/ml Solution for Injection for cattle, horses and pigs.
Cross Vetpharm Group Limited.

Flunixin Injection
Norbrook Laboratories Limited.

Dugnixon 50 mg/ml solution for injection for cattle, pigs and horses
Global Vet Health Sl.

Tribrissen Oral Suspension.
Intervet Ireland Limited.

Product name or type:
See table above

Authorisation Number:
See table above

Product Classification:
These are prescription-only medicines

Authorisation Holder:
See table above

Prescription Required:

Recall Classification:
No recall of the product is considered necessary at this time.

Target Audience:
Vets and pharmacists.

Problem Or Issue:

Diethanolamine has been used as an excipient in certain veterinary medicinal products for many years. In January 2018, the CVMP removed diethanolamine from the list of substances considered as not falling within the scope of Regulation (EC) No. 470/2009, with regard to residues of veterinary medicinal products in foodstuffs of animal origin (also known as the ‘out of scope’ list), on the basis of concerns relating to carcinogenicity and genotoxicity: diethanolamine has been shown to have carcinogenic potential in mice and the available genotoxicity data did not allow a conclusion to be drawn on the relevance of the findings for humans.

The removal of diethanolamine from this ‘out of scope’ list meant that there were veterinary medicinal products for food producing animals on the market that contained a substance for which the MRL status is not addressed. On 7 March 2018, Belgium presented to the European Medicines Agency a request for an opinion in accordance with Article 30(3) of Regulation (EC) No 726/2004 from the CVMP on the potential risk for the consumer resulting from the use of diethanolamine as an excipient in veterinary medicinal products for food-producing species.

A public consultation was initiated by the CVMP on 16 March 2018 in order to seek scientific data for use in the review of the consumer safety assessment of the substance.

That European review procedure concluded on 19 July 2018 with the CVMP confirming its original view. While the newly available data indicates that diethylanolmine is not likely to be a DNA reactive carcinogen, when adopting conservative estimates of exposure in a worst case scenario, calculations indicate that diethanolamine could represent an unacceptable risk to consumers. If the substance is to be further used in veterinary medicinal products, the substance will need to be approved as safe for consumers in accordance with Regulation (EC) No. 470/2009. The CVMP assessment report is available here.

Background Information Or Related Documents:

IARC monograph on diethanolamine.


CVMP decision of 18 January 2018 to remove diethanolamine from the ‘out of scope list’.

Actions To Be Taken:
Pending the outcome of the ongoing HPRA procedure, the products concerned remain on the Irish market as authorised veterinary medicinal products. Therefore, they can continue to be prescribed and used by veterinary practitioners. If, at the end of the procedure the HPRA decides to suspend the marketing authorisations for the products concerned, further advice will be given at that point in time.

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