Updated October 2013
According to the AVMA Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics, it is unethical for a veterinarian to write a prescription or dispense a prescription drug outside a Veterinarian-Client-Patient Relationship (VCPR). The AVMA Principles provide that a VCPR exists when all of the following conditions have been met:
- The veterinarian has assumed the responsibility for making medical judgments regarding the health of the patient and the client has agreed to follow the veterinarian’s instructions.
- The veterinarian has sufficient knowledge of the patient to initiate at least a general or preliminary diagnosis of the medical condition of the patient. This means that the veterinarian is personally acquainted with the keeping and care of the patient by virtue of:
- a timely examination of the patient by the veterinarian, or
- medically appropriate and timely visits by the veterinarian to the operation where the patient is managed.
- The veterinarian is readily available for follow-up evaluation or has arranged for the following:
- veterinary emergency coverage, and
- continuing care and treatment.
- The veterinarian provides oversight of treatment, compliance and outcome.
- Patient records are maintained.
The majority of states prohibit veterinarians from prescribing animal medications outside of a VCPR. The following table provides a summary of the VCPR-Prescription laws and rules that AVMA is aware of in this area.
VCPR Requirement for Prescriptions (PDF)
Source: Staff research, AVMA State Legislative and Regulatory Department
Contact: Tara Southwell, State Policy Analyst, AVMA State Legislative and Regulatory Department, 847-285-6779.