Meet with Congress over recess; tell them to oppose H.R. 1406

We need your help! This week, Members of Congress are back in their home states and it’s the perfect time to reach out and educate them on legislation that impacts the veterinary profession.

Every day Members of Congress are making decisions that impact the livelihood of veterinarians and the welfare of animals.  What happens if they don’t hear from us? Simple–they won’t understand why a bill like the Fairness to Pet Owners Act could have serious consequences for veterinarians, most of whom are small business owners, and the animals under their care.

Now is an opportunity to advocate for your profession. Call and make an appointment to visit with your legislator.  Ask if they are holding any public events or town hall meetings.  Or better yet, invite your representative to visit your clinic where you can show them exactly what you do every day.

While the AVMA continues to educate policymakers, we also need your help in standing up for the profession.  Members of Congress want to hear from their constituents!

Make sure to visit the AVMA Congressional Action Network where you can quickly contact your Members of Congress, asking that they oppose any legislation that would require veterinarians to provide a written prescription for every drug prescribed.

5 thoughts on “Meet with Congress over recess; tell them to oppose H.R. 1406

  1. Here is my question. How are we as pet owners supposed to care for our pets when, like similar cases with children, there are medical conditions you never foresaw that require a daily medication that is beyond your financial limits? I am all for vets making a profit & I understand that it’s a business, but when there are cases where your patients owner looks at you and they are devistated because they want to do what is best for their pet, but can’t afford YOUR prices that YOU have set for a medication, what do you do? Do you look at them and tell them “tough luck”, or do you become a responsible human being and tell them about an option that could help them & their pet, while still keeping them informed about the medications. They still have to come back to you for pet exams, and shots, and countless other things. I guess my concern is with is this really about doing the right thing, or about making a profit where ever you can get it?

    • I completely agree. There are some that say, “Well, if you can’t afford the vet costs, you’re not responsible enough to have a pet.” We aren’t the problem; usually, we’re paying $100 just to walk in the door. Vets and human doctors alike charge exorbitant rates for very simple procedures, and won’t dispense medication or even a prescription until you walk in and have the animal seen, even if it’s for something very simple that a pet owner of 15+ years can diagnose themselves, like skin allergy. This is an industry that should be about the welfare and quality of life for the animals, not about profit per se.

  2. I think it needs passed. We need to curb the theft of our money when we can use it for our families. Everyone is cheaper on scrips than my Vet !

  3. @spivey jean

    I don’t know if this will answer any of your questions, but here are some points from the letter that I wrote to my congressional representative regarding this bill:

    I am writing to express my concerns regarding HR 1406, the so-called “Fairness to Pet Owners Act of 2011.” The broad language and poor structure of this bill disturb me as a veterinarian, writer, and citizen. I am no longer in private veterinary practice, so I have no personal financial stake in the outcome of this bill. However, the language in HR 1406 raises the following concerns:
    1. Veterinarians are uniquely educated and qualified to understand the effects of pharmaceuticals upon each of their patient species. Human pharmacists are only trained in the effects of medications upon humans. Human and animal physiologies vary significantly, and different species metabolize certain chemicals in drastically different ways.
    2. In accordance with the AVMA code of ethics, veterinarians already offer prescriptions to outside pharmacies upon client request. However, the current circumstances allow the veterinarian to “vet” or verify the credential of internet-based pharmacies and to counsel owners regarding the potential for errors inherent in filling prescriptions with a non-veterinary or remote pharmacy.
    3. HR 1406 lacks ‘exceptional language’ which would carve out the necessary exceptions of providing medication in emergency or hospitalization situations. I have been informed by an attorney that the bill, as currently written, could be interpreted to mean that veterinarians would be required to write prescriptions for any circumstances involving prescription medication – even to the ludicrous extreme of requiring written prescriptions for medications or anesthesia administered to hospitalized patients. It is my understanding that this extremely broad writing is atypical for this type of bill.
    4. Also atypical for a bill of this nature is a lack of language regarding pre-emption of state statutes. The only section of the bill addressing pre-emption in any way is Section 4 “Prescriber Verification and State Law” which states: “Nothing in this Act shall preempt applicable State law with regard to verification of a veterinary prescription.” This language seems only to address the verification of licensing of the veterinary provider. It does not address the ramifications of differing consequences of violation where state and federal law on this matter coexist.
    5. Returning to the first point of this list, this bill provides no safeguard for the prescription process at the pharmacy level. Is the pharmacist required to provide species-specific counseling to the owner regarding the medication – as a veterinarian would? For that matter, within this bill, there is no definition of “Pharmacy” or what would constitute a legitimate filling service for these mandated prescriptions. If veterinarians are forbidden by this bill to require or deliver a waiver of liability (Section 2 (2)(A)(iii)), then who bears the liability in the event of a prescription filling error by a less than legitimate supplier (an internet-based firm, for instance.)?
    HR 1406 is not about protecting the pet owner. It is about guaranteeing another source of revenue for chain and internet based pharmacies. HR 1406 unfairly targets veterinarians without regulating any of the other professions involved in the prescription filling process, ie. pharmacists, pharmacy owners, and pharmaceutical manufacturers. HR 1406 is a redundant piece of legislation, attempting to enforce a practice most veterinarians provide willingly, but stripping the same veterinarians of the ability to adequately counsel their clients regarding the prescription process. HR 1406 seeks to profit large corporations by preying on the fears of an economically challenged country, and in doing so, poses a substantial risk to animal welfare.

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