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Reintroduced House Bill Would Require Prescription Writing from Vets

Veterinary organizations fear the Fairness to Pet Owners Act, or H.R. 623, would add extra unneeded work to an already difficult job.


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U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) is giving it the old college try again by reintroducing a bill that would mandate that veterinarians give written copies of all prescriptions they issue for companion animals, whether clients ask for or even want them.

Called the Fairness to Pet Owners Act, or H.R. 623, the AVMA sees it as more government overreach that adds another level of unneeded complexity to the job of being a veterinarian.

Increasingly, veterinarians are being lumped in with MDs and pharmacists, as state and federal officials grapple with how to handle the opioid epidemic in the U.S.

Beginning this year in Maine, for example, veterinarians are now required to combed through a state-run prescription database looking for any red flags every time one of their clients comes seeking medications for their pet.

The AVMA is a strongly worded statement comments that the “extra regulatory burden imposed by prescription mandates” in the Chaffetz Bill “would take time away from what matters most to veterinarians: caring for their patients.”

The AVMA continues, “Many veterinary clinics are small businesses that simply don’t have the time or resources to deal with extra paperwork.”

The Schaumburg, Ill., organization believes the legislation is “unnecessary because clients who want written prescriptions should be able to receive them by simply asking.”
In its “Principles of Veterinary Ethics,” the AVMA already encourages its member veterinarians, some 89,000 of them, to fulfill prescription requests when asked by a client and adds that most states have similar policies.

There are some questionable things going on in the animal medicines industry that are beyond the control of veterinarians, so says Dr. Nahrwold, DVM, AVMA member and founder of the Maumee Valley Veterinary Clinic in Woodburn, Ind., who voiced his opinion about H.R. 623.

Dr. Nahrwold says animal pharmaceutical companies will not “back up any problems with a product, even their own, if purchased online” because of relabeling and reselling abuses.

For instance, the former head of Action Packing and Design in Santa Ana, Calif., was recently convicted in federal court for trafficking in counterfeit labels and packaging for Frontline and Frontline Plus flea medications and for Rimadyl, an animal pain medication sold by Zoetis. 

“I cannot in good conscience write a prescription not knowing the source and care of the drug (has it been stored in a hot warehouse, or to freezing temperatures?),” Nahrwold told the AVMA.

He says that if lost prescription sales that he would be forced to raise the prices of exams and other services to remain in business.

The AVMA is aligning resources to fight H.R. 623 and is calling on its members like Dr. Nahrwold to chime in about how they feel by emailing their thoughts to the AVMA’s Governmental Relations Division at culrich@avma.org. 

The AVMA may use some of the stories it receives from AVMA members in its lobbying efforts.

Another suggestion in the battle against prescription mandates is visiting the AVMA’s Congressional Advocacy Network, which provides an online template so that veterinarians can compose an e-letter to send to their members of Congress.

“This proposed legislation would place all the liability upon me as the doctor for the actions of others I have no control over,” Nahrwold noted.


Originally published in the May 2017 issue of Veterinary Practice News. Did you enjoy this article? Then subscribe today! 

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