Metacam is the brand-name of meloxicam, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug commonly used for the control of pain and inflammation in dogs and cats. Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, who manufacture Metacam, has added a boxed warning about the use of Metacam in cats to the product’s labeling, and the company has written to vets advising them of the change.
The boxed warning reads as follows: "Repeated use of meloxicam in cats has been associated with acute renal failure and death. Do not administer additional doses of injectable or oral meloxicam to cats. See Contraindications, Warnings and Precautions for detailed information." Boxed warnings on prescription drug labels highlight certain contraindications or adverse drug events, especially those that may cause death or serious harm. A contraindication occurs when the risk of using the drug in a patient outweighs any benefit.
According to Boehringer Ingelheim, reports from the past five years indicate that adverse effects can occur in cats following use of Metacam oral suspension. As such, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the use of Metacam solution for injection in dogs and cats and has approved the use of Metacam oral suspension in dogs, but not cats. Boehringer Ingelheim and the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine agreed that the company would provide new information regarding feline safety on Metacam product labeling. In the company’s letter of advice to vets, the company states that the new warning does not affect one-time use of Metacam solution for injection in cats prior to surgeries such as orthopedic procedures, ovariohysterectomy, or castration.
The FDA says that some veterinarians do in fact prescribe or use Metacam in a non-approved manner, a behavior termed "extra-label" or "off-label". Under certain circumstances, veterinarians are allowed to use a drug in an extra-label manner, but the FDA hopes that the product’s new boxed warning will help inform veterinarians of the serious risks associated with extra-label use of meloxicam in cats.