Vets will soon breathe a collective sigh of relief that they will be able to carry and use controlled substances to provide complete care to their animal patients beyond their clinics and across state lines due to the U.S. House’s passage in July of the Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act, thanks to the efforts of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the American Horse Council.

It is an extremely important piece of legislation, not only for equine practices, but for house call practices as well. Essentially, without passage, it would have been illegal for a veterinarian to carry any controlled drug( euthanasia solution, anesthetics)  beyond the registered facility .  The facility could not be a mobile unit.  So as an equine veterinarian, I could not treat animals with controlled substances anywhere but at my business address. That makes it impossible to provide many important services to my patients.  Supporting this bill was the ethical and humane thing to do.  I am very glad that Congress did the right thing.

-Elizabeth D. Callahan DVM, DACT, DABVP (Easton Maryland)

“The AVMA was established more than 150 years ago by veterinarians who cared for the animals that provided food and transportation for Americans,” said Dr. Clark Fobian, president of the AVMA. “Although times have changed since 1865, veterinarians’ need to travel to their patients has not. Today, Congress made it clear that veterinarians are responsible public servants who must be able to use vital medications to treat their patients—no matter the location—so that they receive the best quality care. We applaud our elected officials for clarifying federal statute, which has left veterinarians confused and concerned over the past year. We look forward to seeing President Obama sign this important legislation into law in the near future.”

Sponsored by Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) and Ted Yoho (R-Fla.), both veterinarians, in the House, and Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) and Angus King (I-Maine) in the Senate, this legislation makes it legal for veterinarians to transport and use controlled substances beyond their registered places of business. It also allows licensed veterinarians to register in multiple states, regardless of where their principal place of business is located. The Senate unanimously passed its version of the bill on Jan. 8.

With all of the dysfunction in Washington, it’s encouraging that both parties could come together to pass common sense legislation that allows large animal veterinarians to use controlled substances such as euthanasia solution without being in violation of the law.  The veterinary community appreciates the support of our clients in persuading congress to pass this law.

– Peter Radue, D.V.M. (Damascus, Maryland)

“Today is a victory for veterinarians across this country, but more importantly, it’s a victory for the health and well-being of the animals they are entrusted to care for,” said Rep. Schrader. “Ridiculous bureaucratic interference from the DEA would have seriously impeded veterinarians’ ability to properly treat their patients. The Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act will provide veterinarians with the certainty they need to continue to providing mobile or ambulatory services for their animal patients.”

“As a large animal veterinarian, my operating room wasn’t always in an office. Most times, it was in the field,” said Rep. Yoho. “Expecting ranchers to transport their livestock to a veterinary clinic every time medication is needed is an example of overly burdensome policy created by bureaucrats rather than the folks who know the issue. This bill will correct that problem and allow veterinarians to practice their profession without fear of unnecessary government intrusion. I am thankful for my colleague and good friend Representative Schrader’s hard work on this issue and look forward to this legislation being signed into law.”

Veterinarians have previously been told by the Drug Enforcement Administration that the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) barred registrants from taking controlled substances beyond their registered locations, such as their clinics or homes. This narrow interpretation of the law has been problematic for veterinarians who provide care in a variety of settings. The DEA had also maintained that veterinarians must have a physical address within each state where they want to be registered; this interpretation has restricted veterinarians who live along state borders, but need to provide care in both states.

The AVMA has been actively engaged with the DEA and members of Congress and their staff for more than a year, explaining how this restrictive provision in the CSA affected its member veterinarians’ ability to provide complete veterinary care to their animal patients. The AVMA helped raise awareness on this issue by encouraging members and allied organizations to contact their legislators in support of this important bill, running several advertising campaigns in D.C. publications, and creating a number of multimedia communications products. These advocacy efforts led to more than 27,000 letters sent to members of Congress, bipartisan cosponsorship by 185 representatives in the U.S. House, and the endorsement of the bill by over 130 veterinary medical and other organizations.

Thankfully common sense and collaboration have prevailed to address a very awkward situation for veterinarians. It would be wrong not to legalize legitimate professional medical access to necessary drugs.  Hopefully the implementation of this act doesn’t bring on an onerous registration process or excessive fees.

-Denise Huson DVM (Ellicott City, Maryland)