In a move that brings Congress one step closer to allowing veterinarians the complete ability to provide care to their animal patients beyond their clinics, the U.S. Senate approved unanimously the Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act (S. 1171) on Jan. 9.
Sponsored by Sen. Jerry Moran (R., Kan.) and Angus King (I., Me.), 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.
“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 Association (AVMA). “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, which has concerned veterinarians over the past few years, and urge the U.S. House to swiftly follow suit.”
“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,” Sen. Moran said. “By legalizing the transportation and dispensation of controlled substances, this legislation makes certain 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.”
Since November 2009, the Drug Enforcement Administration has informed the veterinary profession that the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) 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 those veterinarians who care for animals in a variety of settings and also for those who live on a state border, therefore providing care in two states, but only having registered in one state. The DEA has indicated in the past that without a statutory change to the law, some veterinarians may be practicing outside the confines of the law.
The House version of the bill (H.R. 1528) has more than 140 cosponsors and is endorsed by the House Veterinary Medicine Caucus, led by veterinarians Rep. Kurt Schrader (D., Ore.) and Rep. Ted Yoho (R., Fla.).