Veterinarians are members of a scholarly profession who have earned academic degrees from comprehensive universities or similar educational institutions. Veterinarians practice veterinary medicine in a variety of situations and circumstances. Exemplary professional conduct upholds the dignity of the veterinary profession. All veterinarians are expected to adhere to a progressive code of ethical conduct known as the Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics (PVME). The PVME comprises the following Principles, the Supporting Annotations, and Useful Terms.
The AVMA Judicial Council is charged to advise on all questions relating to veterinary medical ethics and to review the Principles periodically to ensure that they remain current and appropriate.
Advertising. Communication that is designed to inform the public about the availability, nature, or price of products or services or to influence clients to use certain products or services.
Attending veterinarian. A veterinarian (or a group of veterinarians) who assumes responsibility for primary care of a patient.
Consulting veterinarian. A veterinarian (or group of veterinarians) who agrees to advise an attending veterinarian, government or industry, on the care and management of a case or issue.
Dispensing. The direct distribution of products by veterinarians to clients for use on their animals.
Ethical product. A product for which the manufacturer has voluntarily limited the sale to veterinarians as a marketing decision. Such products are often given a different product name and are packaged differently than products that are sold directly to consumers. “Ethical products” are sold only to veterinarians as a condition of sale that is specified in a sales agreement or on the product label.
Fee-splitting. Payment by a receiving veterinarian of part of their fee to the referring veterinarian who has not rendered professional services. Under this definition, the use of consultants, laboratory services, and online pharmacies does not constitute fee-splitting.
Impaired veterinarian. A veterinarian who is unable to perform his or her duties in veterinarymedicine with reasonable skill and safety because of a physical or mental disability including deterioration of mental capacity, loss of motor skills, or abuse of drugs or alcohol.
Legend drug. A synonymous term for a veterinary prescription drug. The name refers to the statement (legend) that is required on the label (see veterinary prescription drug).
Marketing. Promoting and encouraging animal owners to improve animal health and welfare by using veterinary care, services, and products.
Merchandising. The buying and selling of products or services.
Over the counter (OTC) drug. Any drug that can be labeled with adequate direction to enable it to be used safely and properly by a consumer who is not a medical professional.
Practice of veterinary medicine. To diagnose, prognose, treat, correct, change, alleviate, or prevent animal disease, illness, pain, deformity, defect, injury, or other physical, dental, or mental conditions by any method or mode; including the:
Prescribing. The transmitting of an order authorizing a licensed pharmacist or equivalent to prepare and dispense specified pharmaceuticals to be used in or on animals in the dosage and in the manner directed by a veterinarian.
Prescription drug. A drug that cannot be labeled with adequate direction to enable its safe and proper use by non-professionals.
Receiving veterinarian. A veterinarian (or group of veterinarians) to whom a patient is referred and who agrees to provide requested veterinary services. A new VCPR is established with the receiving veterinarian.
Referring veterinarian. A veterinarian (or group of veterinarians) who is the attending veterinarian at the time of referral.
Testimonials (or endorsements). Statements intended to influence attitudes regarding the purchase or use of products or services.
Veterinarian-Client-Patient relationship (VCPR). A VCPR means that all of the following are required:
Veterinary prescription drug. A drug that is restricted by federal law to use by or on the order of a licensed veterinarian, according to section 503(f) of the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. The law requires that such drugs be labeled with the statement: “Caution, federal law restricts this drug to use by or on the order of a licensed veterinarian.”