Veterinary Prescription Drug Bill Introduced in Congress, Action Needed

Posted 16 May 2011

By now you may have heard about HR 1406, Congressional legislation that would mandate that veterinarians provide pet owners with copies of veterinary prescriptions.

According to Dr. Ashley Morgan, AVMA assistant director, the Fairness to Pet Owners Act (H.R. 1406), could have major impact on the way small animal practitioners prescribe and dispense prescription drugs. Rep. Jim Matheson (D-Utah) recently introduced the legislation, which would: require veterinarians to write a prescription at the time of prescribing, regardless of whether or not the veterinarian would also be dispensing the product; require a written disclosure that the pet owner may fill the prescription through the prescriber or through another pharmacy; and require prescribers to verify the prescription electronically or by other means. H.R. 1406 will also prohibit veterinarians from requiring payment in addition to, or as part of, the fee for an examination and evaluation as a condition of providing a copy of or verifying the prescription.

The AVMA Board of Governors, acting on behalf of the AVMA Executive Board, approved "Active Pursuit of Defeat" for H.R. 1406. AVMA was not given an opportunity to provide feedback on the legislation prior to its introduction; however, the relevant AVMA committees and councils thoroughly evaluated the language before making recommendations to the Board of Governors. This legislation is unnecessary and redundant. AVMA policy encourages veterinarians to write a prescription when asked by a client. And pet owners already have the ability to take a prescription to be filled at the pharmacy of their choice. We have serious concerns regarding the onerous regulatory burdens a mandate like this would create, and the AVMA believes that there is no need for this mandate.

H.R. 1406 currently has one cosponsor, Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.), and was referred to the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on health.

We wish to thank the VMAs which have shared the AVMA's call to action with their members. If you have not done so, please alert your members to call their member of Congress and tell them to oppose H.R. 1406. They can call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask for their representative's office. Veterinarians may also use the AVMA's Congressional Advocacy Network to make their voice heard.

If you have questions, please contact Dr. Ashley Morgan, Assistant Director, Governmental Relations Division.

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