Veterinarians can start breathing a little easier now when they go to work, without the fear that they might be arrested for carrying controlled substances out of their clinics to treat sick or dying animals. The Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act has passed Congress and only needs President Barack Obama's signature to become law.
The Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act, sponsored by Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., and Ted Yoho, R-Fla., both veterinarians in the House; as well as Jerry Moran, R-Kan., and Angus King, I-Maine, in the Senate, makes it legal for veterinarians to transport and use controlled substances beyond their registered places of business. It also allows veterinarians to be registered to work in multiple states, regardless of their principle place of business.
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has been actively working to get this legislation through Congress since the issue arose in 2012.
The need for the Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act became clear when California's Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) began to contact veterinarians in the state and inform them they could not legally transport controlled substances off of their clinic/home premises. This was, according to the DEA's interpretation, a violation of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).
In a story last year, DTN reported that Dr. Thomas W. Graham of Davis, Calif., told the AVMA he had been contacted by the DEA and had stopped carrying pentobarbital, diazepam, xylazine and butorphanol in his vehicle because he was told it was illegal. Graham was a large animal vet, described as a "bovine practitioner."
Rep. Schrader expressed anger at the time that the DEA did not use what he called "common sense" in their interpretation of the CSA. He said: "Not a single member of Congress intended the CSA to be used as a means of restricting the practice of mobile vets. The DEA has no clue what it means to drive the countryside providing veterinary care and protecting our food supply."
With the passage of the Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act in the House on July 8, Rep. Schrader said there is "a victory for veterinarians across the country, but more importantly it's a victory for the health and well-being of the animals they are entrusted to care for. Ridiculous bureaucratic interference from the DEA would have seriously impeded veterinarians' ability to properly treat their patients."
Rep. Yoho said that during his time as a large animal veterinarian, his operating room wasn't always in an office.
"Most times, it was in the field," he said. "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."
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