DEA Update: Washington State is Next Affected

First California, now Washington. We hear that the DEA field office in Seattle plans to contact DEA registrant practitioners who have a residential address listed as their principal place of business to verify that the home address is the correct registration address (i.e. a business), and to remind them that transport of controlled substances is a violation of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). This could come in the form of a letter or a visit to registration addresses that are residential. Fortunately, as was the case in California, we learned from the Washington Veterinary Medical Association that the Seattle field office understands veterinary practice needs and that there is no active enforcement being pursued by DEA against mobile practitioners.
If you list your residence as the address associated with your DEA registration and you receive a request to confirm that information, complete the form and return it as directed.

The California and Washington state veterinary medical associations are on top of this issue and communicating with AVMA and the regional DEA field offices. However, we remain concerned with this apparent trend and the potentially severe negative effects that a change in enforcement could cause to veterinarians across the country. We know current DEA rules affecting mobile practice are problematic and AVMA is working to get the situation resolved.
• In cooperation with the California VMA, we sent the DEA a letter underscoring the need for enforcement discretion for mobile practitioners after we learned about veterinarians in California receiving letters from the DEA.
• We continue having discussions with the DEA regarding issues that affect veterinarians. We’ve found the DEA headquarters staff to be sympathetic to veterinary needs, yet they were also clear that the CSA, as written, currently does not allow for veterinarians to lawfully transport and use controlled substances remotely. We’ve been assured that the veterinary profession is generally not a target of enforcement in this area – that said, we aren’t going to wait for this problem to grow before we act. The DEA staff was also clear that the CSA can only be changed by an act of Congress. And, although tradition holds that a veterinarian’s “black bag” is an extension of his or her DEA-registered principal place of business, a local DEA field office could still enforce the law according to the CSA. Likewise, a veterinarian could face a variety of penalties should law enforcement find controlled substances in his or her vehicle during the course of an unrelated event, such as a traffic violation or accident.
• Our volunteer leaders of the Council on Biologic and Therapeutic Agents (COBTA) and the Clinical Practitioners Advisory Committee (CPAC) created a subcommittee to help the Association address this issue and under their direction, the AVMA Governmental Relations Division is actively investigating legislative options with key Congressional offices.
• We have relevant information for veterinarians on following current DEA registration, recordkeeping, and security rules available on the AVMA website.

We will also be looking to you and your clients for help:
• If federal legislation that provides more flexibility to veterinarians is introduced, we will look to our members for grassroots support for passage; so if you’re not already a member, please join our Congressional Advocacy Network.

4 thoughts on “DEA Update: Washington State is Next Affected

  1. Hi Dr. White-Shim,

    Sometimes the DEA doesn’t seem to think things through and tends to go a bit overboard in a generalized sort of way.

    They don’t always think of various scenarios as much as they might.

    That seems to be the case this time.

    Talk about a major and impractical inconvenience to veterinarians!

    I do hope that they rethink this ideology.

    =^..^= Hairless Cat Girl =^..^=

  2. If veterinarians can not transport and use DEA controlled drugs, then human ambulances should not be allowed to transport or use DEA controlled drugs (and although I do not know the details, presumably in those cases, the registrant is not even the user).

  3. Thank you, Dr. Rausch-Reinbold. You bring up exactly one of the points we’ve underscored to the DEA. Your situation illustrates the noble reason – patient welfare – that veterinarians need to utilize controlled substances remotely. We’re working virtually on a daily basis with Congressional offices and likeminded medical practitioners to find a legislative fix. When the time comes for us to advocate for a specific federal bill, we’ll be asking members like yourself to harness your energy and passion into outreach to your Congressional Members to support needed changes in the law. In the meantime, should you receive any correspondence from your regional field office asking you to verify whether your residence is actually your principal place of business, just be sure to fill out the requested information and send back to the DEA as soon as you can. Thanks again for sharing your concerns with us, and watch for more on this issue from AVMA.

  4. I am a semi-retired veterinarian who performs limited practice working out of my residence. Some of my work is humanely euthanizing equines belonging to people living in my area. These cases are usually immobile due to extreme colic or leg fracture. These procedures do require the ‘transport’ of a controlled substance. Does the DEA understand that physical and emotional stress that would occur if one tried to transport these horses to my residence??