IN a move that brings Congress one step closer to granting veterinarians the complete ability to provide care to their animal patients beyond their clinics, the Senate unanimously approved the Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act on Jan. 9.
Sponsored by Sens. Jerry Moran (R., Kan.) and Angus King (I., Maine), this legislation will give veterinarians who treat their patients on the farm, in the wild, at a client's home or in any other mobile setting the ability to bring and use controlled substances to provide pain management, anesthesia or euthanasia.
Since November 2009, the Drug Enforcement Administration has informed the veterinary profession that the Controlled Substances Act does not permit registrants to take controlled substances beyond their registered locations, such as a clinic or home, in a veterinarian's case. This narrow interpretation of the law is problematic for veterinarians who care for animals in a variety of settings and also for those who live on a state border and provide care in two states but are registered in only one state.
In the past, DEA has indicated that without a statutory change to the law, some veterinarians may be practicing outside the confines of the law.
"The Senate's action proves that our nation's leaders are listening to the veterinary profession and are diligently working to ensure that animals in all settings continue to receive the best quality care," said Dr. Clark Fobian, president of the American Veterinary Medical Assn. "To be a veterinarian, you must be willing to go to your patients when they cannot come to you, and this means being able to bring all of the vital medications you need in your medical bag.
"We are pleased that the Senate has taken action to fix a loophole in federal regulation that has concerned veterinarians over the past few years and urge the U.S. House to swiftly follow suit," Fobian added.
"The passage of the Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act today is a step in the right direction for the licensed practitioners who help ensure public safety and care for animals in Kansas and across the country," Moran said. "By legalizing the transportation and dispensation of controlled substances, this legislation makes certain that veterinarians are equipped with the tools they need and is particularly important for practitioners who work in rural areas, conduct research or respond to emergency situations."
"I am very pleased the Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act passed the Senate," King said. "Working in a rural state like Maine often requires veterinarians to travel long distances in order to provide care to animals on farms, in homes and at shelters. This bill will grant properly licensed veterinarians the right to carry and administer controlled substances, including important medications, allowing them to do their jobs."
The House version of the bill (H.R. 1528) has more than 140 co-sponsors and is endorsed by the House Veterinary Medicine Caucus, led by veterinarians Reps. Kurt Schrader (D., Ore.) and Ted Yoho (R., Fla.).