OBJECTIVE To determine the pharmacokinetics and sedative effects of 2 doses of a concentrated buprenorphine formulation after SC administration to red-tailed hawks (Buteo jamaicensis). ANIMALS 6 adult red-tailed hawks. PROCEDURES Concentrated buprenorphine (0.3 mg/kg, SC) was administered to all birds. Blood samples were collected at 10 time points over 24 hours after drug administration to determine plasma buprenorphine concentrations. After a 4-week washout period, the same birds received the same formulation at a higher dose (1.8 mg/kg, SC), and blood samples were collected at 13 time points over 96 hours. Hawks were monitored for adverse effects and assigned agitation-sedation scores at each sample collection time. Plasma buprenorphine concentrations were quantified by liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry. RESULTS Mean time to maximum plasma buprenorphine concentration was 7.2 minutes and 26.1 minutes after administration of the 0.3-mg/kg and 1.8-mg/kg doses, respectively. Plasma buprenorphine concentrations were > 1 ng/mL for mean durations of 24 and 48 hours after low- and high-dose administration, respectively. Mean elimination half-life was 6.23 hours for the low dose and 7.84 hours for the high dose. Mean agitation-sedation scores were higher (indicating some degree of sedation) than the baseline values for 24 hours at both doses. No clinically important adverse effects were observed. CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Concentrated buprenorphine was rapidly absorbed, and plasma drug concentrations considered to have analgesic effects in other raptor species were maintained for extended periods. Most birds had mild to moderate sedation. Additional studies are needed to evaluate the pharmacodynamics of these doses of concentrated buprenorphine in red-tailed hawks.
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