We sometimes hear from prescribing veterinarians with concerns about pharmacies asking for Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) registration numbers, even for non-controlled substance prescriptions. Veterinarians want to know whether they should be giving out their DEA registration number, and whether they need an “NPI” number to prescribe, or whether they can just give their state veterinary license number?
The AVMA agrees with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) that DEA registration numbers should not be used solely as identifier numbers. Since 2011 we have advocated our policy on this topic to pharmacies about using identifier numbers appropriately. Our discussions with nationwide pharmacy groups are ongoing, but so far we are encouraged that pharmacies appear to be increasingly asking for alternative identifier numbers.
Veterinarians on two of AVMA’s governance groups – the Council on Biologic and Therapeutic Agents and its Clinical Practitioners Advisory Committee - have found that state license numbers are the least burdensome to use. But AVMA has also found that pharmacies – many of which are human-oriented – prefer National Provider Identifier (NPI) numbers because they are needed for human third-party payer purposes, and because they are integral to the electronic prescribing systems that are becoming more prominent in human medicine. NPI numbers seem to be here to stay. Fortunately, they’re free to obtain, and based on what some of our COBTA/CPAC practitioners and staff found, it takes about 5-15 minutes to apply for one.
So how does it work to get an NPI number? Prescribers can apply on the National Plan and Provider Enumeration System website. Login information is required, as well as name and contact information, social security number, and other identifier numbers including state license numbers. (Note that in the Taxonomy section of the application, you can select that you are an “other” service provider, under which “veterinarian” is an option.)
Veterinarians can elect to give their state license numbers preferentially, but might find an NPI number to be more easily accepted by a pharmacy. Check state rules to ensure veterinarians are not required to have NPI numbers. As our discussions with pharmacy stakeholders continue, stay tuned for updates from AVMA.