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Senate Passes Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act

Legislation will allow veterinarians to legally carry and dispense controlled substances to protect the health and welfare of the nation’s animals, ensure public safety, and safeguard the nation's food supply.

Last night, the U.S. Senate delivered a victory for veterinarians and unanimously passed the Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act, which was introduced by U.S. Senators Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Angus King (I-Maine). Once passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, the bipartisan legislation will allow veterinarians to legally carry and dispense controlled substances to protect the health and welfare of the nation’s animals, ensure public safety, and safeguard the nation’s food supply. Companion legislation, H.R. 1528, was introduced in the House by veterinarians, Reps. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) and Ted Yoho (R.-Fla.).

“The passage of the Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act today is a step in the right direction for the licensed practitioners who help ensure public safety and care for animals in Kansas and across the country,” Sen. Moran said. “By legalizing the transportation and dispensation of controlled substances, this legislation makes certain veterinarians are equipped with the tools they need, and is particularly important for practitioners who work in rural areas, conduct research or respond to emergency situations.”

“It is essential that veterinarians be able to transport the drugs they need to appropriately treat their patients,” said Kansas State University Department of Clinical Sciences Professor Mike Apley, DVM, Ph.D. “This includes the transport and use of controlled substances to treat multiple species in situations that may not be anticipated prior to examining the patient. These situations include restraint, anesthesia, and humane euthanasia. It is apparent that legislation is urgently needed to enable creating the regulations which will allow this transport, and to avoid needless pain and suffering of veterinary patients as well as safety concerns for the people handling these patients.”

The legislation is endorsed by the American Veterinary Medical Association, which had this to say about its passage:

“Today’s action by the Senate proves that our nation’s leaders are listening to the veterinary profession and are diligently working to ensure that animals in all settings continue to receive the best quality care,” said Dr. Clark Fobian, president of the AVMA. “To be a veterinarian, you must be willing to go to your patients when they cannot come to you, and this means being able to bring all of the vital medications you need in your medical bag. We are pleased that the Senate has taken action to fix a loophole in federal regulation, which has concerned veterinarians over the past few years, and urge the U.S. House to swiftly follow suit when it returns from the holiday recess.”

The 1970 Controlled Substances Act (CSA) stipulates that controlled substances must be stored and dispensed at the specific address veterinarians have on file with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The DEA enforces the CSA and has informed organized veterinary medicine that without a statutory change, veterinarians are in violation and cannot legally provide complete veterinary care.

The practice of veterinary medicine requires veterinarians to treat patients in a variety of settings, including rural areas, “house calls” or mobile clinics, research and disease control activities, emergency response situations, and removal or transfer of dangerous wildlife.

To read the Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act in its entirety, click here.