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FDA loosens telemedicine regulations amid COVID-19 pandemic

The agency has temporarily suspended some federal veterinarian-client-patient relationship requirements related to connected care

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To help animal health professionals provide care for pets during the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has temporarily lifted some of its federal requirements for telemedicine.

The agency is suspending the enforcement of portions of federal veterinarian-client-patient relationship (VCPR) requirements as they relate to certain FDA regulations, which will allow veterinarians to more easily utilize telemedicine during the pandemic.

Specifically, this will permit veterinarians to prescribe drugs in an extra-label manner or authorize the use of veterinary feed directive (VFD) drugs without direct examination of a patient, limiting human-to-human interaction and the potential spread of COVID-19.

“FDA recognizes the vital role veterinarians play in protecting public health,” says Stephen M. Hahn, MD, FDA commissioner. “This pandemic has had impacts on many of our everyday lives and professions, and during this time, we need to provide veterinarians with the latitude to expand the use of telemedicine in the care of animals, not only pets, but also the animals that produce our food.

“FDA is providing flexibility that will help veterinarians maintain the health of animals during the pandemic, while allowing for the social distancing that is so important in limiting the further spread of coronavirus disease across the country and the world.”

Typically, the federal VCPR definition requires veterinarians physically examine patients and/or make timely visits to the location where the animal(s) are kept.

While FDA has temporarily suspended certain federal VCPR requirements, veterinarians must still consider state requirements that may exist in their practice area, the agency adds.

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