New act would ensure vets can continue to care for animals on farms

By Heather Hetterick

As it currently stands, the Controlled Substance Act makes it illegal for veterinarians to take and use controlled substances to treat animals outside of the location where they are registered, which would be their office. This affects large animal veterinarians who treat animals on-site.

“The Controlled Substances Act was actually passed by Congress back in 1970,” said Jack Advent, Executive Director of  the Ohio Veterinary Medical Association. “About a year ago at a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) office in California someone said, ‘I’m not sure that vets, in the way the law is currently written, are really in a position to be transporting controlled substances outside of the area where they are licensed.'”

That led to conversations between the DEA and veterinary medicine. To make sure that it was clear and that veterinarians can continue to treat animals and carry drugs in their vehicle, the law needed to be changed.

This week H.R. 1528 the Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act of 2013 was introduced.

“What that legislation does is make it crystal clear that a veterinarian is allowed in the course of their duties to transport a controlled substance when out engaging in the practice of veterinary medicine,” Advent said.

It would clarify and make it legal for veterinarians practice in these settings:

  • Rural areas — for the care of large animals where it is often not feasible, practical or possible for owners to bring livestock (i.e., cows, pigs, horses, sheep, and goats) into a veterinary hospital or clinic;
  •  “House call” services or mobile clinics — where veterinarians offer a variety of veterinary services for their patients or in the communities;
  • Research and disease control activities — where it may be necessary to conduct research away from the veterinarian’s principal place of business;
  • Emergency response situations — where injured animals must be cared for onsite; and
  • The removal or transfer of dangerous wildlife (e.g. bears, cougars) or to rescue trapped wildlife (e.g. deer trapped in a fence).

“Our organization is engaged with contacting members of Congress and encouraging our members to contact their member of Congress,” Advent said. “We need to explain to them why its important that this is cleared up and for veterinarians to be able to do their job correctly they need to be able to transport controlled substances.”

The American Veterniary Medical Association is also urging support for H.R. 1528. That can be done through their Action Alert.


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