Veterinary mobility bill clears Senate

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On Jan. 9, the AVMA praised the Senate for passing “commonsense legislation” that would allow veterinarians to legally transport controlled substances to treat animal patients outside their clinics. 

The Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act (S. 1171) is a bipartisan response to the Drug Enforcement Administration’s interpretation that the Controlled Substances Act makes it illegal for veterinarians to take these medications beyond their registered places of business.

“The Senate’s action proves that our nation’s leaders are listening to the veterinary profession and are diligently working to ensure that animals in all settings continue to receive the best quality care,” said AVMA President Clark K. Fobian.

The bill was sponsored by senators Jerry Moran, Republican of Kansas, and Angus King, Independent of Maine. “By legalizing the transportation and dispensation of controlled substances, this legislation makes certain veterinarians are equipped with the tools they need and is particularly important for practitioners who work in rural areas, conduct research, or respond to emergency situations,” Moran said.

“Working in a rural state like Maine often requires veterinarians to travel long distances in order to provide care to animals on farms, in homes, and at shelters,” King added. “This bill will grant properly licensed veterinarians the right to carry and administer controlled substances, including important medications, allowing them to do their jobs.”

In November 2009, the DEA informed the veterinary profession that the Controlled Substances Act does not permit registrants to take controlled substances beyond their registered locations. This interpretation of the law is problematic for those veterinarians who care for animals in a variety of settings and for those who live on a state border, therefore providing care in two states, but only having registered in one state.

The DEA has indicated that without a statutory change to the law, some veterinarians may be practicing outside the confines of the law.

The AVMA Governmental Relations Division has been actively engaged with Capitol Hill staff to amend the CSA and has embarked on a yearlong advocacy campaign to educate the public and the profession about how this regulation directly impacts the ability of veterinarians to protect the health and welfare of animals.

AVMA’s members have sent more than 24,000 letters to Congress this year in support of the Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act, and the bill has the support of more than 130 veterinary medical and other organizations. The House version of the bill (H.R. 1528) has more than 140 co-sponsors.