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).