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Support increases for bill needed for vets transporting medicine

Senators introduce companion legislation as House which corrects limitations on veterinarians' ability to carry controlled substances.

Sens. Jerry Moran (R., Kan.) and Angus King (I-Me.) introduced legislation May 14 that would correct a restriction in the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) which prevents veterinarians from transporting or using controlled substances outside of their registered places of business.

The new Senate bill (S. 950) is a companion to the Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act of 2013 (H.R. 1528), which Reps. Kurt Schrader (D., Ore.) and Ted Yoho (R., Fla.), both veterinarians, introduced in the U.S. House on April 12.

During the farm bill markup in the House Agriculture Committee, Schrader and Yoho introduced an amendment on the matter and discussed the need for a fix, only to then withdraw the amendment over jurisdiction issues. Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R., Va.), who chairs the House Judiciary Committee and does have jurisdiction over the DEA, offered to work with Yoho and Schrader on getting a more realistic approach from the DEA.

"As [the DEA] conducts their war on drugs, they don't need to expand that to include veterinarians," Goodlatte said, adding it is important for veterinarians to be able to get to farms and livestock to get their work done with the tools they need.

The American Veterinarian Medical Assn. (AVMA) and the American Assn. of Bovine Practitioners (AABP) both support the act and advocate finding a fix allowing licensed practitioners to legally transport and dispense the controlled substances necessary to practice veterinary medicine.

AVMA President Dr. Douglas G. Aspros noted, “Without the ability for veterinarians to be mobile and treat their animal patients wherever they need to, veterinarians are unable to provide complete care and their animal patients may suffer. Veterinarians must be able to transport the necessary medications beyond their brick-and-mortar clinics for the health and welfare of the nation’s animals, to safeguard public safety and to protect the nation’s food supply."

AABP member Dr. Fred Gingrich, a dairy practitioner in Ashland, Ohio, added that failure to pass this legislation that would amend the controlled substance act would mean that cattle veterinarians may have to face the difficult decision of choosing between breaking the law or providing pain relief or euthanasia of an animal. “As veterinarians who care for cows, we have a taken an oath to relieve animal suffering. This legislation allows us to uphold our oath to the animals we care for every day on farms,” Gingrich said.

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