Vets may soon be able to carry scheduled drugs

Big pharma and veterinarians alike have been stymied by what they saw as an antiquated law passed in 1970 that prohibited animal docs from bringing meds to farm sites. But on July 8, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) came out with a sweeping victory when the House unanimously passed a bill that would allow licensed vets to dispense drugs at treatment sites.

Ron Phillips, the executive vice president of public affairs of the Washington, DC-based Animal Health Institute, told FierceAnimalHealth that the organization "supports the AVMA" and its endeavor to get the Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act passed. The law that prevents vets from carrying meds out of their offices or home offices is the Controlled Substances Act, putting vets at risk of enforcement from the DEA's interpretation of its provisions, the AVMA argued.

The Controlled Substances Act, which is still in effect, requires separate registration "for each principal place of business or professional practice at one general physical location where controlled substances are manufactured, distributed, imported, exported or dispensed by a person." But the new act, should it get President Obama's signature, will allow vets, as long as they are registered with the DEA, to transport drugs with them under the authority of their state licenses.

Zoetis ($ZTS), the animal health industry leader, told FierceAnimalHealth in an emailed statement that it "applauds the passage of the Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act. This legislation clarifies that it is legal for veterinarians to carry and dispense controlled substances to ensure that they are able to provide proper care for their animal patients. Zoetis advocated for passage of this legislation, believing it will help protect animal health as well as safeguard public safety and the nation's food supply."

In 2009, the DEA came down on vets when it informed them that taking drugs out of a licensed location would be considered illegal, prompting ire among the industry--and largely propelling the AVMA to start acting on an advocacy campaign. "Recommendations by the DEA on how to treat animals while adhering to the law and regulations create serious concerns about the potential for drug diversion and for negative consequences to animal health, animal welfare and public safety," the AVMA wrote in its argument to pass the act.

The bill was sponsored by the only two veterinarians in Congress, Reps. Kurt Schrader (D-OR) and Ted Yoho (R-FL).

- read the AVMA argument here (PDF)