Proposed prescription mandates are back – we need your help to stop them

DocWPrescription-300It’s back – Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) has reintroduced prescription mandate legislation into Congress. Misleadingly named the “Fairness to Pet Owners Act” (H.R. 623), this legislation would force veterinarians to provide written copies of all prescriptions they issue for companion animals, regardless whether clients request or want them.

The extra regulatory burden imposed by prescription mandates would take time away from what matters most to veterinarians: caring for their patients. Many veterinary clinics are small businesses that simply don’t have the time or resources to deal with extra paperwork. Plus, this legislation is unnecessary because clients who want written prescriptions should be able to receive them by simply asking. The AVMA’s Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics urge veterinarians to fulfill prescription requests when asked by a client, and a majority of states have similar policies.

The AVMA will devote substantive resources to opposing this bill in Congress. Our Governmental Relations Division staff is meeting regularly with lawmakers in Washington, DC, to demonstrate how this bill would hurt veterinarians and their clients.

To make the most effective case against this bill, we need your help too. We want to hear from you on how this bill could impact your veterinary clinic so we can share these stories with lawmakers and media to illustrate the negative impacts of prescription mandates. For instance, would this legislation reduce the number of patients you can see or force you to raise prices for clients?

If you have a story to share, you can reach out directly to the Governmental Relations Division via email at culrich@avma.org. If we plan to use your story publicly, we will contact you for permission before sharing.

Help us stop this billAnother great way to help stop prescription mandates is by visiting our Congressional Advocacy Network and using the online form there to send your lawmakers a letter asking them to oppose this bill. This action is quick and easy, and goes a long way in helping to build opposition to this legislation.

We know prescription mandates are bad for the veterinary community, and we’re doing everything we can to protect veterinarians from this legislation. Visit our prescription mandates page to learn more about our advocacy efforts around this issue.

16 thoughts on “Proposed prescription mandates are back – we need your help to stop them

  1. This legislation starts with the premise that all veterinarians are trying to screw their clients by charging exorbitant prices and the government is there to protect them. What a false premise, that is actually an oxymoron. We work daily to get the cheapest prices for our clients, while still have modern tools in our practice for the clients. Take away another source of profit and the tools of modern medicine will slowly leave as profit is lost, and the pet suffers the most.

  2. Prescriptions are an important revenue stream for DVM’s. The Dr. went to school for years and incurred debt that should be rewarded with a successful practice. Forcing a written script will have an effect on inventory stocked at hospitals, certainly the profitability and in the end, cost lost jobs for veterinary staff and veterinary meds distributors. The money will be shifted from the local veterinarian to the big box retailers.. who will take no responsibility for the medication issued in relation to the cure / health of the pet.. This law is bad for small businesses, and ultimately jeopardizes the personal full-circle care the veterinarian has determined best for the pet. The doctor determined the medication best to help the pet, let the veterinarian fill the prescription. There is already a ton of competition amongst veterinary hospitals that benefits the consumer in regard to fees and prescription pricing. I am shocked to see a Republican sponsoring this bill and the lack of understanding of the effect this bill will have on an industry of critical wage earners important to our economy.

  3. My clients trust me and I go to great extents to give them the best price that I can afford (in order to stay in business) that is very close to online sources. All the major pharmaceutical companies WILL NOT back up any problems with a product, even their own, if purchased online, because of such abuse of relabeling, overseas purchases that are then resold in the USA! I cannot in good conscience write a prescription, not knowing the source and the care of the drug (has it been stored in a hot warehouse, has it been exposed to freezing temperatures? I am responsible for the well being of the pets that I care for and at an affordable price to the client. This proposed legislation would place all the liability upon me as the doctor, for actions of others that I have no control over. If prescription sales are lost, then the price for the exams and other services will have to increase to allow me to stay in business… guess what,,,, we are then have the exorbitant fees as seen in human medicine and the client/patient is the real loser! We do NOT need MORE GOVERNMENT interfering with our daily lives!

  4. I can tell you why pet owners want this: Because there are many vets who don’t even mention the OPTION that the client can purchase the meds on their own from a pharmacy or from a mail-order pet rx. Many people don’t even know they could ask for a written script. I know you need to make a living, but the markup on some drugs vets sell from their offices is several times the cost of the drug at retail or the human equivalent at their local drug store. How is that fair to consumers? (I am not talking about drugs used while the patient is hospitalized.)

    • This is not always true. At the clinic where I work, we sell a drug for $20-25, and I have had MULTIPLE clients comment that the drug cost $60-70 at any other pharmacy, including big-box retailers. The markup for veterinary practices is very similar to what many pharmacies offer. Additionally, many medications are made specifically for animals because of the differences in metabolism. I have, at times, had a pharmacist try and offer the client a “cheaper alternative” medication which ends up being toxic to the animal. Additionally, I have had pharmacists tell clients that I am overdosing their animal when, in fact, I am not because they are going by the human dosing recommendations. These clients then contact me infuriated with accusations of malpractice and carelessness, so I then have to defuse the situation without trying to throw the pharmacist under the bus. Most pharmacists do not understand nor care to understand the veterinary aspect of prescription drugs, and this bill takes the control out of the veterinarian’s hands.

    • Dear Mardi, As a veterinarian who swore an oath when I graduated to do no harm it is my responsibility to make sure my patients get the absolute best care possible. I work within everyone’s budget. Every client gets a full estimate of the tests, vaccine, exams, etc from me after I have examined their pet. I work closely with each client to provide them the best care possible. If they have monetary concerns I work with them to allow them to take care of their animal properly. I sell medications for the cats and dogs on which I work because my clients have busy lives and do not want to go elsewhere to get the medication. They prefer to get it from me. I have a poster in my office that tells people that if they wish to do so they can ask me for a written prescription. I usually go one better and I have a staff member call the Rx into the pharmacy of their choice so they don’t have to wait to pick it up when they travel there. But even though I have the poster and am willing to help them out with a written or called in Rx most of my clients still want to get the medication from me. There is a huge amount of competition with big box stores such as Costco, CVS, Target, Walmart, etc. all of which carry veterinary medications. There are also a million online pharmacies…some are honest, some are not.
      The problem with forcing me to write a Rx for every medication is 1. What if my client doesn’t want me to? You have now taken away an individual’s personal choices (freedom of choice) for where that person gets his/her medications for their pet. Is that the right thing to do? To force someone to do something they don’t want to with respect to their medical choices? 2. As one of the other veterinarians said in their response to this bill…we are held responsible for our patient’s health care. If they get a medication from Costco (as an example), the person at Costco does not care about informing the pet owner about possible side effects of the medicine. They often make mistakes with the medications despite a written prescription because they are used to dealing with humans and do not realize that dogs and cat metabolize medications differently than humans. If the medication is one that is used for animals only, not people, they have no knowledge of it, they often cannot even pronounce the name of the medication correctly. This fills me with fear every time I speak to a pharmacist who seems clueless as to what medication I want of if it is a human medication (e.g. Amlodipine for blood pressure) they do not understand why the doses are so different from human doses. And as one of the other veterinarians said the human pharmacies are interested in saving themselves money as well and so they often go to the least expensive source for human and veterinary medications. These sources might be overseas! We in veterinary medication have seen horrible examples of what happens when medications from overseas that are not well regulated are given to animals. Some of them have foreign ingredients (as fillers) in them that are poisonous to dogs and cats. 3. My mark up for medications is really not very high. Often a client who has asked for a prescription will call back asking to get it from us because in fact, our price is less. I do not think places like Costco, Target, CVS, Walmart or any other human pharmacy should sell veterinary medications. Small business owners cannot hope to compete with respect to price as we don’t have room to stock a ton of extra medication and we don’t have the money to buy that much medication. In my opinion is is unfair business practices. And veterinary medicine is a tightly regulated industry already. It is getting so over-regulated that it is very difficult to make a living. Small business owners account for at least 50% or more of the work force employed in the USA. If you allow people to continue to erode our businesses we will not be able to make a living. Then just the corporate practices will be available and they charge a lot more than I do! Thanks for listening.

  5. This legislation is ridiculous! To be forced to write a prescription whether or not the client asks for one is such a waste of time! It undermines our professionalism. I believe that a particular veterinarian should be dealt with, if he or she refuses to write a prescription without a valid reason. This legislation underscores the importance of communication between a veterinarian and their client. We’ve had clients requesting prescriptions for patients we haven’t seen in over 6 months. We’ve also had pharmacists changing our prescriptions due to their own ignorance of ANIMAL pharmacology.

  6. This would waste a massive amount of my time meaning I would have less time to see patients. Plus on a practical aspect what would have with hospitalized patient under my care that I want to start on new meds while hospitalized? Need to get the owner to come in each time to collect the written rx so then can fill it with us? And what about vet only drugs, in VA we cant fill prescriptions from other vet practices so what would the point in writing prescriptions? This is just a ridiculous piece if legislation to try and push more profits to places like Walmart. We have to write prescriptions when asked, that is enough to give clients enough choices as it is.

  7. This would waste a massive amount of my time meaning I would have less time to see patients. Plus on a practical aspect what would have with hospitalized patient under my care that I want to start on new meds while hospitalized? Need to get the owner to come in each time to collect the written rx so then can fill it with us? And what about vet only drugs, in VA we cant fill prescriptions from other vet practices so what would the point in writing prescriptions? This is just a ridiculous piece if legislation to try and push more profits to places like Walmart. We have to write prescriptions when asked, that is enough to give clients enough choices as it is. This bill is not to benefit owners it is to help big coroperations make more money.

  8. I would have to decrease the amount patients I can see in a day and for being the only vet in a rural area that desperately needed a vet many pets would end up with delayed care. I bet you most of the scripts I would have to write wouldn’t get filled, if it did at all, for days until my clients drive 25 minutes into town. All this will do is delay proper care for my patients and I’ll have to increase the price of my exam and procedures to compensate for the loss of income. Many clients won’t be able to afford to be seen then. I only see this being detrimental to my rural area.

  9. This would be very difficult for my new and growing practice. I would have to decrease the amount patients I can see in a day and for being the only vet in a rural area that desperately needed a vet many pets would end up with delayed care. I bet you most of the scripts I would have to write wouldn’t get filled, if it did at all, for days until my clients drive 25 minutes into town. All this will do is delay proper care for my patients and I’ll have to increase the price of my exam and procedures to compensate for the loss of income. Many clients won’t be able to afford to be seen then. I only see this being detrimental to my rural area.

  10. I have not been given a paper prescription from my own doctors in years. They all submit the prescriptions they want me to get electronically to the pharmacy that I have chosen. I live in New York State. If most MDs in New York are submitting electronically in my state will we as DVMs be forced to do it electronically to the Walmart or other pharmacy of the client’s choosing whether they want to get the drug from me or not? Why would we submit something if the client intends to purchase it from us? This leads to confusion all around; the client, the pharmacist and us!

  11. this is crazy what’s going on right now with Congress…

    again I agree people like us small business we won’t be able to deal with all this paperwork and headache!

  12. I personally would like to know why they think this is necessary. Besides focusing on the impact we can also focus on the probable lack of necessity. If there is some issue my guess would be a small government Republican would rather see this handled at the State level if it is necessary in particular States.

  13. Passing this bill would definitely mean less time afforded to actual patients in the hospital or time spent with clients. As a behaviorist, we consistently go through dose and/or medication changes in a week and the time delay in owners picking up written rx’s would delay care and place our clients at risk. Not to mention the potential to make copies and alter prescriptions for controlled substances.

  14. Passing this bill would definitely mean less time afforded to actual patients in the hospital or time spent with clients. As a behaviorist, we consistently go through dose and/or medication changes in a week and the time delay in owners picking up written rx’s would delay care and potentially place our clients at risk. Not to mention the potential to make copies and alter prescriptions for controlled substances.