Veterinary prescription orders

Last updated October 2020

The following is a list of states that AVMA research has found with specific statutes, rules or agency policy statements addressing whether or not a veterinarian is required to provide a written prescription at the request of his or her client. Forty-one states have adopted laws, regulations or policy statements that specifically or implicitly require veterinarians to provide their clients with a written prescription upon request in some circumstances. Some of those states do so by incorporating into their discipline standards for veterinarians the AVMA’s Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics, which state that veterinarians shall honor a client’s request for a prescription in lieu of dispensing (Section III-C). 

It’s important to note that even in states not listed below, state boards of veterinary medicine could find in acting on a complaint that failure to honor a client’s request for a prescription constitutes unprofessional conduct, leading to discipline against a veterinarian. Unprofessional conduct generally refers to a departure from or failure to conform to the standards of acceptable and prevailing practice of a veterinary medicine.

State

Cite

Language

Arizona

A.A.C. R3-11-801: Notification That Prescription-only Drugs or Controlled Substances May Be Available at A Pharmacy

A.  A dispensing veterinarian shall notify an animal owner that some prescription-only drugs and controlled substances may be available at a pharmacy by:

  1. Stating the availability at or before the time of dispensing;
  2. Posting a written statement that is visible to the animal owner; or
  3. Providing the animal owner with written notification.

B.  A dispensing veterinarian may provide a written prescription to the animal owner if requested by an animal owner.

California

West's Ann. Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 4170: Conditions; enforcement of chapter; prescriber

16 CCR § 2032.2:
Written Prescriptions

6. The prescriber, prior to dispensing, offers to give a written prescription to the patient that the patient may elect to have filled by the prescriber or by any pharmacy.

7. The prescriber provides the patient with written disclosure that the patient has a choice between obtaining the prescription from the dispensing prescriber or obtaining the prescription at a pharmacy of the patient's choice.

 

Pursuant to section 4170(a)(6) and (7) of the Business and Professions Code, veterinarians must notify clients that they have a choice to obtain either the medication or a written prescription and that they shall not be charged for the written prescription.

 

Colorado

4 CCR 727-1:
Veterinary Medicine Rules and Regulations

Veterinarians are charged with knowledge of the pharmacy practice act provisions that apply to their practice, as well as the laws and regulations of the federal food and drug administration.

When a client requests a copy of a prescription for their animal under current treatment, the veterinarian must provide it to the client.

Connecticut

C.G.S.A. § 20-202: Disciplinary action; grounds

In determining whether a licensee has acted with negligence, the board may consider standards of care and guidelines published by the American Veterinary Medical Association including, but not limited to, guidelines for the use, distribution and prescribing of prescription drugs

Delaware

​24 Del. Admin. Code CSA 8.0:
Practitioner Dispensing of Controlled Substances

Before dispensing any controlled substance, the patient must be advised that the prescription may be filled in the practitioner's office or any pharmacy.

Florida

West's F.S.A. § 474.214:
Disciplinary proceedings

The following acts shall constitute grounds for which the disciplinary actions in subsection (2) may be taken:

(pp) Failing to give the owner of a patient, before dispensing any drug, a written prescription when requested.

Georgia

Ga Comp. R. & Regs. 700-8-.01:
Unprofessional Conduct

Within the meaning of GA. Code subsection 43-50-21(a)(7), unprofessional conduct means:

(e) Prescription Drugs:

  1. It is unlawful for a veterinarian to release, prescribe, and/or dispense any prescription drugs without having established a valid veterinary/client/patient relationship.
  2. After a valid veterinary/client/patient relationship has been established, a veterinarian must make available, upon request, at a reasonable cost, a written prescription.

 

Hawaii

HRS § 471-10:
Refusal to grant and revocation or suspension of license

The board may revoke or suspend the license of any veterinarian or fine the licensee, or both, for any cause authorized by law, including but not limited to the following:

(12) Conduct or practice contrary to the recognized principles of medical ethics of the veterinary profession as adopted by the Hawaii Veterinary Medical Association and the American Veterinary Medical Association. The AVMA principles provide that veterinarians shall honor a client’s request for a prescription in lieu of dispensing.

Idaho

IDAPA 46.01.01.153:
Standards of Practice

The Idaho Administrative Code adopts the Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics, published by the American Veterinary Medical Association and violation of such principles constitutes unprofessional conduct.  

These principles provide that veterinarians shall honor a client’s request for a prescription in lieu of dispensing. 

Illinois

225 ILCS 115/19.2:
Patient Requests for Prescriptions

Veterinarians shall honor a client's request for a prescription in lieu of dispensing a drug when a veterinarian-client-patient relationship exists and the veterinarian has determined that the drug is medically necessary.

Indiana

IC 25-38.1-4-5:
Prescriptions written by licensed veterinarian; veterinarian-client-patient relationship requirement

(d) If a veterinarian prescribes a drug for the client's animal, upon request, the veterinarian shall provide the prescription to the client, unless prohibited by state or federal law or to prevent inappropriate use.

This requirement does not apply to livestock.

Iowa

Iowa Admin. Code 811-10.6(17A,169,272C):
Grounds for discipline

A licensed veterinarian is subject to disciplinary action for the violation of any of the following:

a. Engaging in unethical conduct which includes, but is not limited to, a violation of the standards of practice as set out in 811—Chapter 12, and which may include acts or offenses in violation of the AVMA Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics.

These principles provide that veterinarians shall honor a client’s request for a prescription in lieu of dispensing. 

Kansas

K.A.R. 70-7-1:
The practice of veterinary medicine

Each veterinarian shall meet the following minimum standards in the practice of veterinary medicine:
Upon request of a client, each licensed veterinarian shall provide a written prescription for a prescription drug to a client instead of dispensing the prescription drug.

Kentucky

201 Ky. Admin. Regs. 16:110:
Prescription and dispensation of drugs for animal use

Section 5:

  1. A veterinarian shall not be required to write a prescription for controlled substances or a prescription for any medication that, in the veterinarian's medical judgment, is not appropriate for the patient's medical care.
  2. A veterinarian may refuse to write a prescription if it is not directly requested by a client with whom there is, in the veterinarian's opinion, a current and existing veterinarian-patient-client relationship.
  3. A prescription shall be construed to include any manner of authorization for filling a prescription, including verbal or electronic communication.
  4. The veterinarian may delegate to an office employee the authority to communicate a refill of a legend drug to the pharmacy on behalf of the veterinarian pursuant to written protocol established prior to the delegation of that authority.

Louisiana

La. Admin Code. tit. 46, Pt LXXXV, § 705:
Prescribing and Dispensing Drugs

G.  Providing Prescriptions

  1. A client is not obligated to purchase a prescription medication from the prescribing veterinarian.  Therefore, when a veterinarian-client-patient relationship exists and a veterinarian has determined that a prescription medication will be used in a patient’s treatment or preventive health plan, it shall be considered a violation of the rules of professional conduct, within the meaning of RS 37:1526(14), for a veterinarian to refuse to provide a written prescription to the client so long as the following conditions exist:
    1. the veterinarian has determined that he patient’s life is not endangered without the immediate administration of the prescription medication; and
    2. in the veterinarian’s medical opinion, the prescribed substance is medically safe for in-home administration.

Maine

Maine Department of Professional and Financial Regulation
Office of Licensing and Registration

If the veterinarian is prescribing a medication for a patient, yes the doctor is required to provide the patient, upon request, with a written prescription. 

Maryland

COMAR 15.14.01.12-1:
Prescriptions

A veterinarian or employee approved by a veterinarian may transmit prescriptions that are not controlled dangerous substances from the prescriber to a pharmacy chosen by a client and note such action in the record of the animal belonging to the client. Acceptable methods of transmission include but are not limited to:

  1. Facsimile; or
  2. Encrypted computer transmission.

Massachusetts

256 CMR 5.02:
Drugs and Medications

A licensee shall provide prescription information to an off-site pharmacy or a written prescription to the client if requested. The prescription may be written or transmitted by any electronic means at the discretion of the prescribing licensee and in accordance with M.G.L. c. 94C.

Mississippi

Mississippi Board of Veterinary Medicine

Policy statement adopted June 17, 1975

Veterinarians shall abide by the AVMA Code of Ethics as set forth in the AVMA Directory.

The AVMA’s Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics provide that veterinarians shall honor a client’s request for a prescription in lieu of dispensing. 

Missouri

20 Mo. Code of State Regulations 2270-4.031:
Minimum Standards for Practice Techniques

(3) Dispensed Drug Labeling:

    1. All clients shall have the right to receive a written prescription from their veterinarian to take to the pharmacy of their choice so long as a valid veterinarian-patient-client relationship exists.

Montana

Mont. Admin. R. 24.225.514:
Record-Keeping Standards

If a veterinarian, based upon his or her medical opinion, is willing to dispense medication, then the veterinarian must also provide a prescription in place of said medication should the owner request a prescription. If a veterinarian, based upon his or her medical opinion, is not willing to dispense medication, then the licensee should deny a request for a prescription.

Nebraska

Board of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery

Memorandum, March 4, 2013

Failure to provide a prescription upon client request in appropriate circumstances could be considered unprofessional conduct, and a ground for discipline against the license.

Nevada

N.R.S. 638.140:
Statutory or regulatory violations; criminal offenses; improper or unlawful acts involving controlled substances; incompetence, negligence or malpractice; willful noncompliance; failed supervision

The following acts, among others, are grounds for disciplinary action:

    1. Willful failure to comply with any provision of this chapter, a regulation, subpoena or order of the Board, the standard of care established by the American Veterinary Medical Association or an order of a court;

New Hampshire

N.H. Code Admin. R. Vet 501.01:
Ethical Standards

New Hampshire Board rules require all licensed veterinarians to comply with the Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics, published by the American Veterinary Medical Association.

These principles provide that veterinarians shall honor a client’s request for a prescription in lieu of dispensing. 

New Jersey

N.J.A.C. 13:44–4.1:
Veterinary prescription items

(e) A licensed veterinarian, in the course of professional practice and an existing veterinarian-client-patient relationship, shall, upon request, provide a written prescription to a client who does not wish to purchase a prescription item directly from the licensed veterinarian.

New Mexico

N.M. Admin. Code 16.25.9:
Minimum Standards

H.  Veterinarians shall honor client requests to dispense and/or provide a written prescription for a drug that has been determined by the veterinarian to be appropriate for the patient.

New York

8 NYCRR 29.1:
General Provisions

Based on a conversation with the New York Board of Veterinary Medicine on Nov. 30, 2011, it would be considered unprofessional conduct for a veterinarian not to provide a written prescription to his or her client upon request. 

It would be a violation of section 29.1(b)(2) which states that unprofessional conduct includes exercising undue influence on the patient or client, including the promotion of the sale of services, goods, appliances or drugs in such a manner as to exploit the patient or client for the financial gain of the practitioner or of a third party.

North Carolina

North Carolina Veterinary Medical Board

Statement, website

If a veterinarian, based upon his or her medical opinion, is willing to dispense medication, then they (veterinarians) must also provide a prescription, in place of said medication, should the owner request a prescription. If a veterinarian, based upon his or her medical opinion, is not be willing to dispense medication, then it would also be appropriate to deny a request for a prescription.

North Dakota

NDAC 87-04-01-02:
Prescription drugs - Records - Labeling - Dispensing

After a valid veterinarian-client-patient relationship has been established, a veterinarian shall make available, upon request, and may assess a reasonable cost for, a prescription for a drug that has been determined by the veterinarian to be appropriate for the patient.

Oklahoma

59 Okl. St. Ann. § 354:
Prescription as property right of patient--Duty to provide reference copies and transfer prescriptions

  1. A prescription is the property of the patient for whom it is prescribed.
  2. No pharmacist shall refuse, upon request by that customer in person or through an authorized pharmacist, to transfer a prescription to another pharmacy, or to supply a reference copy in writing or by telephone.
  3. No licensed prescriber shall refuse to honor the request of his or her patient to have his or her prescription transmitted to the licensed pharmacist or licensed pharmacy of the patient's choice.

Oregon

OAR 875-015-0020:
Minimum Requirements for Veterinary Medical Facilities and Veterinary Licensees

OAR 875-015-0030:
Minimum Veterinary Practice Standards

If requested, a written prescription shall be provided to a client for medications prescribed by the veterinarian under a valid VCPR. The facility shall post in a place conspicuous to the public a notice indicating availability of written prescriptions. The facility shall use, or replicate the specifications of, a notice template provided by the Board.

If requested, a prescription shall be provided to a client for medications prescribed by the veterinarian under a valid VCPR.

Rhode Island

216-RICR- 40-05-14.9:
Record of Animals Receiving Veterinary Services

Any veterinarian licensed in the state of Rhode Island who writes a prescription for an animal patient shall provide a copy of that prescription to the owner of the animal patient, upon request of the owner, for the purpose of filling the prescription with a licensed pharmacy.

South Carolina

S.C. Code of Regulations R. 120-8:
Practice Standards for Licensed Veterinarians

Licensed veterinarians shall comply with the American Veterinary Medical Association Code of Professional Ethics.

South Dakota

Veterinary Medical Examining Board policy

Policy based on AVMA Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics provision that veterinarians should honor a client’s request for a prescription in lieu of dispensing.

Tennessee

Position Statement, Tennessee Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners

Adopted December 9, 2014

It is a violation of Rule 1730-01-.13 for a veterinarian to refuse to honor a client’s request to prescribe, rather than dispense, a drug (AVMA Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics). The client has the option of filling a prescription at any pharmacy.

Veterinarians asked by pharmacies to approve prescriptions they have not initiated should do so only if the prescription is appropriate and a veterinarian-client-patient relationship exists. It is within the veterinarian's (not the pharmacy's) purview to determine the medical criteria whereby a drug is indicated. It is not unethical for a veterinarian to charge a reasonable professional fee for a prescription.

Utah

U.A.C. R156-28:
Unprofessional Conduct

Unprofessional conduct includes failing to conform to the generally accepted and recognized standards and ethics of the profession including those established in the Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics of the American Veterinarian Medical Association.

These principles provide that veterinarians shall honor a client’s request for a prescription in lieu of dispensing. 

Vermont

Vt. Admin. Code 20-4-2000:3:
Information for Licensed Veterinarians

  1. Licensed veterinarians and applicants are subject to discipline for unprofessional conduct as defined by 26 V.S.A. § 2431 and 3 V.S.A. § 129a. Unprofessional conduct includes failing to comply with provisions of federal or state statutes or rules governing the practice of the profession. 3 V.S.A. § 129a(a)(3).
  2. In determining whether an applicant or licensee has engaged in unprofessional conduct, the Board may refer for guidance to the AVMA principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics.

Virginia

18 VAC 150-20-140:
Unprofessional conduct

Unprofessional conduct shall include the following:

  1. Refusing to release a copy of a valid prescription upon request from a client.

Washington

WAC 246-933-350:
Release of a veterinary prescription

  1. If requested by the client, a veterinarian must provide a written prescription for any medication prescribed by that veterinarian under a valid veterinarian-client-patient relationship.
  2. As an alternative to a written prescription, if requested by the client, the veterinarian must call or send the prescription by electronic means consistent with state and federal law, to any pharmacy of the client's choosing that is licensed under chapter 18.64 RCW.

 

West Virginia

W. Va. Code St. R. § 26-4-5:
Mandatory Standards for the Practice of Veterinary Medicine

a. A veterinarian shall not prescribe, dispense or administer any prescription drug without the establishment of a veterinarian/client/patient relationship.

  1. Veterinarians shall honor a client’s request for a prescription in lieu of dispensing.

Wyoming

WY Rules and Regulations 251.0001.9 § 1:
Standards of Professional Conduct for the Practice of Veterinary Medicine

Wyoming Rules and Regulations adopt, incorporate and enforce as standards for professional conduct, the Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics, published by the American Veterinary Medical Association Judicial Council.

These principles provide that veterinarians shall honor a client’s request for a prescription in lieu of dispensing. 

Source: Staff research, AVMA Division of State Advocacy  
Contact: State Policy Analyst, AVMA Division of State Advocacy