With opioid issues top-of-mind for millions of Americans, the AVMA seized an opportunity to bring the veterinary perspective to the forefront in a rapid series of 23 television interviews conducted with media stations nationwide during our annual convention.
Newly elected AVMA President Dr. John de Jong spoke with each of the 23 stations individually to educate the public and correct misperceptions about opioids and veterinary medicine. He also discussed veterinarians’ proactive work to prevent drug diversion by owners, and the importance of taking pets to the veterinarian if they have ingested opioids or any other drug not prescribed to them.
Dr. de Jong’s interviews aired across the country, from Colorado to Virginia.
The interviews were part of a concerted AVMA effort to ensure that policy solutions don’t unintentionally hurt veterinary patient care. Spurred by opioid abuse and opioid-related deaths, some policymakers are pursuing one-size-fits-all policies that would require veterinarians to follow the same rules as human medicine, despite the fact that veterinarians prescribe opioids in very different contexts.
For example, some states have implemented prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) that include veterinarians along with other opioid prescribers who are required to examine the prescription history of human patients to look for signs of misuse. This approach is impractical. Veterinarians are animal health experts who should not be assigned to assess human opioid use. These programs also can require unnecessary administrative work for veterinarians, who prescribe an exceedingly small percentage of all opioids.
AVMA will continue to work closely with state veterinary medical associations to educate lawmakers and the public on this issue. Veterinarians want to play an active role in solving the opioid crisis – but solutions shouldn’t inappropriately burden our profession or impede access to needed medications.
AVMA members can find state-by-state charts listing requirements for veterinary participation in PDMPs and opioid-related CE, as well as practical clinical resources to help navigate opioid shortages and prevent drug diversion, at avma.org/opioids.