Federal legislation that would legalize the transporting and dispensing of controlled drugs away from a veterinarian’s office moved a step closer to being enacted when the House of Representatives approved the measure by voice vote Tuesday.
The Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act would authorize practitioners, particularly mobile and livestock veterinarians, to carry drugs away from their registered location and across state lines. Veterinarians commonly dispense drugs away from a clinic, but the Drug Enforcement Administration in recent years took what the American Veterinary Medical Association called a "narrow interpretation” of the Controlled Substances Act and forbid the practice.
The DEA sent letters to violators, but no veterinarians have been charged, AVMA reported.
The Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act now moves back to the Senate, which approved a version in January.
The legislation was sponsored by the only two veterinarians serving in Congress: U.S. Reps. Kurt Schrader, DVM, an Oregon Democrat, and Ted Yoho, DVM, a Florida Republican.
"Today is a victory for veterinarians across this country, but more importantly, it’s a victory for the health and well-being of the animals they are entrusted to care for,” Dr. Schrader said. "Ridiculous bureaucratic interference from the DEA would have seriously impeded veterinarians’ ability to properly treat their patients.
"The Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act will provide veterinarians with the certainty they need to continue to provide mobile or ambulatory services for their animal patients,” he added.
Dr. Yoho worked as a large animal veterinarian in north-central Florida.
"My operating room wasn’t always in an office,” he said. "Most times, it was in the field. Expecting ranchers to transport their livestock to a veterinary clinic every time medication is needed is an example of overly burdensome policy created by bureaucrats rather than the folks who know the issue.
"This bill will correct that problem and allow veterinarians to practice their profession without fear of unnecessary government intrusion,” he said.
AVMA President Clark Fobian, DVM, credited the veterinary profession with helping advance the bill.
"We could not have made it this far without the help of our members and allied groups,” Dr. Fobian said. "AVMA’s members have been rallying together in an urgent call to action, sending more than 27,000 letters to their members of Congress in support of the Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act.
"We also have been joined by over 130 veterinary medical and other organizations who have endorsed this bill,” he said.
Barry Kellogg, VMD, senior veterinary adviser with the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, commended "our federal representatives for taking such a major step in making sure animals get the care they need regardless of location.”
"If this legislation is enacted, veterinarians will be able to provide mobile spay/neuter clinics, on-site care on rural ranches, disaster response and at-home euthanasia without fear of being in violation of the law,” Dr. Kellogg said.