State Advocacy Issue

Pharmacy board regulation of veterinary prescription drugs

Updated September 2017

This is a summary of the laws governing state pharmacy boards' authority to regulate the sale of veterinary prescription drugs. Please contact the AVMA State Advocacy and Leadership Division for summaries or the actual text of any of the state statutes.
In a December 19, 2006 decision, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled that the Missouri Practice of Pharmacy Statute could not be read to cover the retail sale of veterinary prescription drugs used for treating animals. The court found that because the statute did not discuss the retail sale of veterinary prescription drugs, nor did it define "drugs" or "patients", it was unwilling to infer, or read into the statute, a legislative intent to regulate veterinary prescription drugs.  This decision led to legislation adopted in 2011 that gives the pharmacy board explicit authority over the retail sale of veterinary drugs.  It also adds a licensed veterinarian to the board’s advisory committee and gives the committee authority to make recommendations on rules and regulations dealing with veterinary legend drugs.
A survey of state pharmacy laws and regulations found that several other states such as California, Delaware, Indiana and Massachusetts have laws which specifically regulate the sale of veterinary prescription drugs and give the authority to the Board of Pharmacy or, in the case of Indiana, to the Board of Animal Health. Additionally, the majority of states do define the term "drug" to include those used in the cure, diagnosis, mitigation, treatment or prevention of disease in man or animal. After further research, it was found that in the overwhelming majority of states, it is apparent that the state's Board of Pharmacy has authority over the retail sale of veterinary prescription drugs. There are, however, a few exceptions.
In Maryland, it is not clear whether or not the Board has authority over the sale of veterinary prescription drugs, unless one could argue that they are included in the definition of prescription drugs, which are specifically regulated by the Board. In Wyoming, it is clear that a veterinary drug retailer selling controlled substances is under the authority of the Controlled Substances Act, but there seems to be a void with regard to controlling veterinary prescription drug retailers.

However, with the exception of the court decision in Missouri, no other state was found to have expressly or implicitly determined, either legislatively or judicially, that veterinary legend drugs may be dispensed by non-regulated individuals.

Source:  Staff Research, AVMA Division of State Advocacy & Leadership
Contact:  AVMA Division of State ​Advocacy & Leadership