U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) introduced an amendment to the Senate Farm Bill this week that would permit veterinarians to transport and dispense controlled substances for their animal patients beyond their brick-and-mortar facilities. The Senate amendment (SA 988) is essential for the practice of veterinary medicine and should be considered as part of the comprehensive Farm Bill legislation.
Sen. Moran first introduced the Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act (S. 950/H.R. 1528) with Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) on May 15 as a companion to the version in the U.S. House. The legislation has the support of more than 115 organizations, including the AVMA, from around the country that understand the importance of giving veterinarians the tools they need to do their jobs.
In the past, the Drug Enforcement Administration has told AVMA and its member veterinarians that the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) prohibits veterinarians from transporting and using controlled substances to treat their animal patients beyond the locations where they are registered with the DEA. This means, for example, that veterinarians who treat livestock in rural areas are barred from bringing key medications—used for pain management, anesthesia or euthanasia—to their animal patients. In addition, the DEA had said that veterinarians who operate ambulatory practices and who often have to cross state lines to provide care, but do not have a principal place of business registered within that state, are working beyond the confines of the CSA.
Now, the DEA is contradicting itself by stating that this is not an issue and that legislation is unnecessary. Despite this, veterinarians in several states have told AVMA that they have been contacted by the DEA about their use of controlled substances beyond their home clinics.
SA 988 provides a step in the right direction. Legislation like this will remove all ambiguity in how the CSA is enforced. By amending the CSA in statute, veterinarians will be able to rest easy knowing that they have the legal permission to use the medications they need to treat their animal patients in the field and will not be subject to future violations.
AVMA members are encouraged to contact their members of Congress to tell them to support this important amendment. Sign AVMA’s action alert now.
The Senate will continue its debate on the Farm Bill this week in hopes of wrapping it up before they leave on Friday for the Memorial Day recess.
For more information on the latest with the Farm Bill, see Gina Luke’s latest blog post.