The passage of the Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act in the U.S. House of Representatives in July, and its signing by President Obama Aug. 1, ensures that veterinarians will be able to continue to use controlled substances on farms and ranches, outside of clinic settings.
Energy and Commerce Committee leaders applauded the news that H.R. 1528, the Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act, was signed into law. The bipartisan legislation, authored by Reps. Kurt Schrader (D-OR) and Ted Yoho (R-FL), both veterinarians, and Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Angus King (I-ME) in the Senate, will allow veterinarians to administer care at a site other than their registered principal place of business.
It also allows licensed veterinarians to register in multiple states, regardless of where their principal place of business is located. The Senate unanimously passed its version of the bill on Jan. 8.
The 1970 Controlled Substances Act (CSA) stipulates that controlled substances must be stored and dispensed at the specific address veterinarians have on file with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The DEA enforces the CSA and has informed organized veterinary medicine that without a statutory change, veterinarians are in violation and cannot legally provide complete veterinary care.
Since November 2009, Veterinarians have been told by the DEA that CSA barred registrants from taking controlled substances beyond their registered locations, such as their clinics or homes. This narrow interpretation of the law had the potential to create problems for veterinarians who provide care in a variety of settings. The DEA had also maintained that veterinarians must have a physical address within each state where they want to be registered; this interpretation has restricted veterinarians who live along state borders, but need to provide care in both states.
“Although times have changed since 1865, veterinarians’ need to travel to their patients has not.
Congress made it clear that veterinarians are responsible public servants who must be able to use vital medications to treat their patients—no matter the location—so that they receive the best quality care. We applaud our elected officials for clarifying federal statute, which has left veterinarians confused and concerned over the past year.
We look forward to seeing President Obama sign this important legislation into law in the near future,” said Clark Fobian, DVM, President of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), in early July.
Full Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) also praised the new law, stating, “The Energy and Commerce Committee has a proven record of results, and this new law is just the latest bipartisan success in public health. This common sense bill will have a significant impact on the veterinary community, providing peace of mind to our nation’s vets that they will not be breaking the law if they administer care in a local stable, or a local pasture.”
Subcommittee Chairman Pitts added, “This new law injects a dose of common sense, ensuring that our vets can administer care directly to large animals like horses and cattle in the field without fear of being arrested or losing their license. Oftentimes, especially during emergencies, large animals must be treated on-site, and prohibiting our vets from doing so would needlessly cause many animals to suffer and potentially perish. This bipartisan law is an important win for our veterinarians, our farmers and live stock owners, and it is the right policy.”
“It is essential that veterinarians be able to transport the drugs they need to appropriately treat their patients,” said Kansas State University Department of Clinical Sciences Professor Mike Apley, DVM, Ph.D. “This includes the transport and use of controlled substances to treat multiple species in situations that may not be anticipated prior to examining the patient.
These situations include restraint, anesthesia, and humane euthanasia. It is apparent that legislation is urgently needed to enable creating the regulations which will allow this transport, and to avoid needless pain and suffering of veterinary patients as well as safety concerns for the people handling these patients.”
AVMA worked diligently with DEA and members of Congress and their staff for more than a year, explaining how the potential restrictive provision in the CSA affected its member veterinarians’ ability to provide complete veterinary care to their animal patients. The AVMA helped raise awareness on this issue by encouraging members and allied organizations to contact their legislators in support of this important bill, running several advertising campaigns in D.C. publications, and creating a number of multimedia communications products. These advocacy efforts led to more than 27,000 letters sent to members of Congress, bipartisan co-sponsorship by 185 representatives in the U.S. House, and the endorsement of the bill by over 130 veterinary medical and other organizations. — Traci Eatherton, WLJ Editor