Drug disposal guidelines approved, antimicrobial use task force to be formed

Executive Board also OKs concept of farm animal welfare council
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In Seattle, the 2008-2009 AVMA Executive Board held its final meeting July 8, and the 2009-2010 board met for the first time July 14, the final day of the AVMA Annual Convention.

The incoming board elected District VI representative, Dr. John R. Scamahorn of Greencastle, Ind., as its new chair and re-elected the District I representative, Dr. Douglas G. Aspros of White Plains, N.Y., as vice chair. Dr. Scamahorn owns a mixed animal practice in Indiana. Dr. Aspros is in small animal practice in Westchester, N.Y.

Dr. Scamahorn
Newly elected Executive Board chair, Dr. John R. Scamahorn, oversees a full agenda at the July 14 meeting in Seattle.

Installed on the board July 14 were two new members, Drs. V. Hugh "Chip" Price Jr. of Shreveport, La., and H. Theodore Trimmer of Las Vegas. Dr. Price succeeds Dr. Larry M. Kornegay in representing District VIII, which comprises Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas. Dr. Price is director of Animal Resources at the Louisiana State Health Sciences Center at Shreveport, where he is a professor of molecular and cellular physiology and emergency medicine.

Dr. Trimmer replaces Dr. David L. McCrystle, who was board chair this past year and representative of District X, comprising California, Hawaii, and Nevada. Dr. Trimmer owns and operates several small animal practices in the Las Vegas metropolitan area.

At its July 8 meeting, the board approved the policy titled "Best Management Practices for Pharmaceutical Disposal" (see story). The policy provides veterinarians with drug disposal guidelines for reducing water contamination and could lessen the likelihood of federal regulation.

The board July 14 approved a recommendation from the Office of the Executive Vice President to establish an Antimicrobial Use Task Force to clarify veterinarians' role and degree of involvement in all uses of antimicrobials, through a science-based evaluation. A cost of $17,000 was attached for meeting expenses.

The action was a response to a resolution referred to the board by the AVMA House of Delegates regarding a proposed revision to the "Judicious Therapeutic Use of Antimicrobials" policy (see story).

Board members on July 8 approved the concept of a National Farm Animal Welfare Council and further development of this concept by AVMA staff and volunteers. This initiative was recommended by the Office of the Executive Vice President and the AVMA staff strategic goal manager for animal welfare.

The National Farm Animal Welfare Council would serve as an independent, credible, authoritative organization that develops minimum criteria for farm animal welfare assurance programs and awards a seal of approval for programs that meet or exceed the criteria. The organization would also promote dialogue about farm animal welfare concerns and issues. Over the past nine months, AVMA staff reached consensus with the American Association of Avian Pathologists, American Association of Bovine Practitioners, and American Association of Swine Veterinarians to further develop the idea. The four organizations then met with animal protection and producer organizations.

Now that the board has approved the concept, a business plan will be developed for presentation to potential sponsors and others, to measure the support for such a program.

Also on July 8, the board approved up to $50,000 in funding to develop a business plan for redevelopment of the AVMA Web site, as recommended by the Communications Division. In June 2009, the board directed staff to develop the business plan and indicated that a state-of-the-art Web site is essential for the Association's growth. A steering committee comprising key staff members has outlined a process to be used for this redevelopment. The $50,000 is seed money to employ a consulting firm and engage other resources to prepare the plan.

The board approved a Legislative Advisory Committee recommendation of "nonsupport" for the Strategies to Address Antimicrobial Resistance Act (H.R. 2400), which would amend the Public Health Service Act to enhance efforts to address antimicrobial resistance.

At its previous meeting in April 2009, the board had approved an LAC recommendation of "support" of the STAAR Act as long as the bill was the same as or similar to the version from the 110th Congress. But the new version introduced in the current, 111th Congress raised concerns among LAC members. While recognizing the importance of research and data collection to validate decisions concerning antimicrobial resistance, the committee took issue with the way data may be collected.

At its July 14 meeting, the board did not approve a recommendation for the Association to continue its sponsorship of the AVMA Veterinary Leadership Experience at $75,000 per year for 2010-2013 (see story). The board did, however, direct the Membership and Field Services Division to conduct a broad examination of AVMA student programs and whether the VLE fits in with the overall mission of the Association.

In another student-related action July 14, the board recommended that an AVMA Bylaws amendment to add the Student AVMA president to the AVMA Executive Board as a nonvoting, invited participant be initiated. The AVMA Task Force on Future Roles and Expectations recommended the measure as a way to foster improved dialogue. The cost would be about $5,000 for five meetings per year. The proposed amendment will be submitted to the House of Delegates for action in January at its regular winter session.

The board approved the appointment of Dr. Elizabeth Curry-Galvin as AVMA assistant executive vice president, effective Sept. 8. She will succeed Dr. Lyle P. Vogel, who has served in this position for two years and will retire from the AVMA. Dr. Curry-Galvin has been director of the Scientific Activities Division since 2006 and was an assistant director from 1996-2006.

A stronger alliance with the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America is a concept the board approved, as recommended by the AVMA/NAVTA Executive Board Liaison Committee. AVMA and NAVTA staffs will develop their concept paper into a concrete proposal.

The board also approved a concept to develop new opportunities for AVMA members to provide input on Association policies and actions.

Currently, AVMA members have four ways of addressing Association initiatives: as volunteers on AVMA councils, committees, and other Association entities; as members of the Executive Board; as members of the HOD; and by communicating with AVMA staff or volunteers serving on AVMA entities.

The document submitted by the Office of the Executive Vice President describes two potential approaches to gathering member input: Publish a list of policies coming up for review in the next year with instructions on submitting comments and related background material for consideration, or create a Federal Register-type process for comment submission.

Giving members an opportunity to provide comments is not intended as a means to advocate for or against a particular policy, the recommendation explained, but is intended to provide AVMA entities with substantive information that they can consider during their deliberations.

The board also approved a Legislative Advisory Committee recommendation of "active pursuit of defeat" of the Healthy Families Act (H.R. 2460/S. 1152).

The legislation would require employers with 15 or more employees to provide up to seven days of annual paid sick leave for full- and part-time workers to take care of themselves, family members, or anyone else whose close association is the equivalent of a family relationship. Leave would also be available for reasons related to domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

Workers would earn one hour of leave for every 30 hours worked, up to a maximum of 56 hours per year. Employers would be prohibited from interfering with an employee's exercise of such rights. The legislation would authorize civil actions by employees, individuals, or their representatives for damages or equitable relief against employers who violate the law.

The LAC Management Subcommittee, with input from the full Legislative Advisory Committee, is concerned with the economic hardship that the legislation would have on veterinary practices. The LAC also expressed concern with government intrusion into small business.