AVMA no-vote on pet prescription legislation

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​The reintroduction of the Fairness to Pet Owners Act in this current session of Congress prompted the AVMA Executive Board to reiterate its opposition to the legislation, which the Association considers unnecessary and an administrative burden for veterinary practitioners.

Rep. Jim Matheson of Utah introduced H.R. 4023 on Feb. 10 with the intent of promoting competition and helping consumers save money by giving them the freedom to choose where they buy prescription pet medications. 

Matheson’s bill would require veterinarians to provide a pet owner with a prescription before offering to fill the prescription or dispense the medication, whether the owner requested the prescription or not. The prescribing veterinarian could neither require payment for the prescription nor ask the pet owner to sign a waiver or disclaim liability. 

During the previous congressional session, the AVMA took a position of “active pursuit of defeat” for a similar piece of legislation. The newest version of the Fairness to Pet Owners Act differs in two main ways, however: The veterinarian would not be required to provide the client with a written notification informing clients that they could take the prescription to be filled elsewhere, and medications administered by the veterinarian while providing acute care would be exempt.

The AVMA Legislative Advisory Committee reviewed H.R. 4023 and recommended the Executive Board again approve taking a position of “active pursuit of defeat.”

The legislative committee explained in the recommendation background that the Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics and most states already require veterinarians to honor a client’s request to receive a written copy of any prescription. Thus, the requirement that a written prescription be provided prior to offering to fill it or determining whether the client would like to go elsewhere creates an administrative burden for veterinarians and veterinary clinics.

Additionally, the committee noted that the AVMA Council on Biologic and Therapeutic Agents, Clinical Practitioners Advisory Committee, Council on Veterinary Service, and Veterinary Economics Strategy Committee suggest that the Executive Board oppose H.R. 4023.

The Fairness to Pet Owners Act was at press time before the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade.