August 15, 2008


 AVMA Answers: Prescriptions

Posted Aug. 1, 2008

What are the responsibilities of a veterinarian whose client asks for a written prescription rather a dispensed drug out of the clinic?

Dr. Lynne A. White-Shim, assistant director, AVMA Scientific Activities Division, responds:

The AVMA recommends that when a veterinarian has determined that a prescription drug is medically necessary for a patient, he or she should honor client requests to prescribe, rather than dispense, the recommended drug. Within a veterinarian-client-patient relationship, the veterinarian may recommend that the drug be dispensed directly from his or her veterinary clinic for the client's use. If, however, the client prefers a prescription to a dispensed drug, the veterinarian is encouraged to honor the request. A veterinarian may either give a written prescription to the client, or may choose to fill it electronically or by phone.

While the AVMA recommends that veterinarians honor such client requests for written prescriptions, some state regulations actually require veterinarians to provide a prescription rather than dispense a drug when requested by the client. The prescription must be medically indicated and within a VCPR. In addition, states might have specific requirements or guidelines on the various forms—oral, written, and electronic—in which prescriptions can be offered. Veterinarians should ascertain state-specific requirements by contacting the board of veterinary medicine in the state(s) in which they are licensed. Also, depending on the state, board of pharmacy regulations may also apply to veterinarians as handlers of prescription drugs, so veterinarians should make themselves aware of any pertinent board of pharmacy regulations in their state. State veterinary medical associations monitor state issues that affect veterinary medicine and may be a helpful resource.

For further information on ​, visit the AVMA Web site for answers to frequently asked questions at