Mandatory prescription bill reintroduced in Congress

By: Dr. Ashley Morgan, assistant director, AVMA Governmental Relations Division

On Feb. 10, Rep. Jim Matheson (D-Utah) reintroduced the so-called “Fairness to Pet Owners Act” (H.R. 4023). Like its predecessor in the previous Congress, H.R. 1406, the legislation would require a veterinarian to provide a client with a written prescription for domesticated household animals, whether or not requested by the client. The veterinarian would be prohibited from charging for the prescription or asking a client to sign a liability waiver related to writing the prescription.

The legislation, cosponsored by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), has been referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee. While the AVMA is currently reviewing the legislation, it was opposed to similar language in the 112th Congress.

At the same time, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is working on a report of its findings and recommendations following a public workshop it held in October 2012, which examined the competition and consumer protection issues in the pet medications industry. According to the FTC’s website, the workshop considered how current industry distribution and business practices affect consumer choice and price competition for pet medications; the ability of consumers to obtain written, portable prescriptions that they can fill wherever they choose; and the ability of consumers to verify the safety and efficacy of pet medications that they purchase outside of the veterinarian’s office. It also considered ways to inform consumers so that they can obtain the highest quality and most cost-effective healthcare products for their pets. Veterinarians participated as panelists throughout the workshop.

AVMA members can receive alerts about this legislation or write their members of Congress by signing up for the AVMA Congressional Advocacy Network (AVMA-CAN).

7 thoughts on “Mandatory prescription bill reintroduced in Congress

  1. Well, since none of our local pharmacies will fill our scripts without an NPI number, which veterinarians aren’t allowed to have, I guess we get to cure our patients with well-wishes and fairy dust.

  2. I agree. Any pharmacist filling veterinary prescriptions must be accredited in veterinary pharmacology.

  3. I have several friends that are pharmacists and they do not wish to have this obligation pushed on them. They are overworked and stressed out just filling human scripts. The part of this bill that I find unacceptable is that the veterinarian is legally responsible if the script is filled incorrectly. If it is not filled in house we are responsible for other people’s errors? Give me a break
    MLOrzel DVM

  4. I think since a pharmacist has had years of education to know how drugs work in the human body in order to fill prescriptions, they should also be educated on how drugs prescribed for animals work in the animal’s bodies, potential side effects and drug interactions as well. In order for pharmacists to be able to fill prescriptions for animals, they should be educated in the physiology of all animal species for which they intend to fill prescriptions. This should be a requirement for pharmacists and part of any congressional legislation.

  5. Now the sponsor and co-sponsor are both from Utah. I would like to hear from the Utah AVMA delegate as to what the deal is?
    I think they should name it the Big Box Store Enrichment via Animal Medications Act.
    I am sort of surprised though that Jason Chaffetz is a co-sponsor as I thought he was a conservative. This is an over-regulation, anti-business measure. Totally unnecessary.

  6. I don’t mind writing prescriptions for owners, our prices are lower most of the time anyway. But if Jim Matheson is going to make me do it for every prescription I wonder if I can just bill him for the time. Seems fair, doesn’t it? A few thousand prescriptions per year per doctor, somebody has to pay for that time and it might has well be him. I can guarantee it is not going to be me.

    Joe Frost