By: Dr. Ashley Morgan, assistant director, Governmental Relations Division
In early June, U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) and Angus King (I-Maine) introduced the Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act as Senate Amendment 1144 (SA 1144) to the Senate’s version of the Farm Bill. Though the amendment did not ultimately get included in the Senate’s final version of the Farm Bill (see related article), it did gain more attention among the senators, successfully garnering additional endorsements by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.). On June 17, Sens. Moran and King reintroduced the bill as S. 1171.
The Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act aims to amend the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) to allow veterinarians to carry some medications—used for pain management, anesthesia or euthanasia—beyond their registered places of business. The Drug Enforcement Administration, which enforces the CSA, has called for a statutory change to fix the law, but until then, the agency continues to inform veterinarians in several states that they are not permitted to carry their controlled substances beyond their registered locations and are in violation of the law, leaving veterinarians concerned.
Adding to the confusion, AVMA learned that DEA’s Congressional Affairs Office had actively informed Congressional offices on Capitol Hill in May that the amendment was unnecessary. DEA purported that they already allow veterinarians to transport and dispense controlled substances wherever they need to within states within which the veterinarians are licensed. This message is a contradiction to what the AVMA, state veterinary medical associations and many practitioners have been told by the DEA’s Office of Diversion Control and DEA field offices. And, as recently as early May, DEA field offices have continued to inform veterinarians that they need to register farms where they want to dispense and administer controlled substances.
In addition, DEA’s Congressional Affairs Office has not clearly articulated to veterinarians how they should handle registering their controlled substances in states where they are licensed to practice, but do not have a principal place of business, such as a veterinarian who lives on the border of a state and may, in fact, practice in two states. This is an issue that requires clarification and remains of utmost importance to the AVMA.
In response to DEA’s recent communications, AVMA’s Governmental Relations Division requested a meeting with the DEA in early June to clarify its stance on the issue, but the meeting has been denied. Similarly, U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) is joining with several other members of Congress in a request for information from the DEA on this issue.
Given the continued confusion as to how the CSA should be carried out, AVMA continues to support legislation that will remove all ambiguity and will provide better clarity to veterinarians who need to use controlled substances away from their principal places of business. We ask that you remain engaged on this issue. Contact your Representative and Senators in support of the Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act (H.R. 1528 / S. 1171) if you have not done so already and urge your colleagues and clients to do the same.