Prescription mandates: new bill, same problems

Published on May 08, 2018

Protecting, promoting and advancing veterinary medicineFor several consecutive congressional sessions, the AVMA has led the charge to defeat legislation that would require veterinarians to provide written copies of all prescriptions for companion animals – even if not requested or wanted by the client. The misleadingly named “Fairness to Pet Owners Act” has had several sponsors over the years and has been introduced once again in both the House and Senate. Despite some language changes, the effect would be the same as in years past: this bill would implement burdensome and unnecessary regulations on veterinarians, and create unnecessary inconvenience and complication for clients.

The House version of the bill – H.R. 5472, introduced by U.S. Reps. Chris Collins (D-N.Y.) and Matt Cartwright (R-Pa.) – would direct the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to create regulations requiring veterinarians to provide prescriptions without a client requesting one, even when the client wants to obtain the prescribed medication from the veterinarian. Details of the regulations would be left to the FTC, leaving room for more onerous requirements.

The companion bill in the Senate – S. 2651, sponsored by U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) – is somewhat different, retaining the same language used in previous years.

In either form, the legislation is simply unnecessary. Prescription writing is effectively governed by laws and regulations at the state level, and the AVMA’s Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics require veterinarians to provide prescriptions upon a client’s request. The AVMA policy on Client Requests for Prescriptions also urges veterinarians to write a prescription in lieu of dispensing a medication when requested by the client. Further, the FTC has found that these products are widely available to consumers in retail outlets, both brick-and-mortar and online.

Prescription writing mandates are an overreach of federal government that interferes with the practice of veterinary medicine. Many veterinary clients already request to have their prescriptions filled elsewhere, and can do so. Veterinarians should be able to focus on patients and clients – not arbitrary red tape. Prescription writing regulations would interfere with providing optimal patient care, cause undue administrative burdens on small business veterinary practices, and potentially raise costs for veterinary care.

Because of these concerns, AVMA will continue aggressively opposing this bill. If you’re concerned about prescription writing mandates, you can use our online tools to send a pre-written, editable letter to your lawmakers in opposition to the legislation.

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