In a major victory for the veterinary profession and the healthcare of our nation’s animals, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) would like to thank President Barack Obama for signing into law a crucial bill that makes it legal for veterinarians to provide complete medical care to their animal patients beyond their clinics and across state lines. The Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act (H.R. 1528) amends a restrictive provision within the Controlled Substances Act, which previously barred veterinarians from carrying and using controlled substances—necessary for pain management, anesthesia and euthanasia— beyond their registered locations, often their clinics.
“By passing and signing this legislation, the president and our legislators recognize the critical role veterinarians play in treating sick animals and relieving their pain and suffering. The health and welfare of our nation’s wildlife, food animals, and even our companion animals depend on veterinarians being allowed to do their jobs wherever the need arises,” said Dr. Ted Cohn, president of the AVMA. “As veterinarians, we promise to use our medical expertise for the protection of animal health and welfare and the prevention and relief of animal suffering. On behalf of our members, I would like to thank the president and Congress for allowing us complete access to the medications we need to fulfill our oath to society.”
For more than two years, the AVMA has been diligently working with the Drug Enforcement Administration and Congress in search of a statutory clarification to the Controlled Substances Act so that its member veterinarians would not be subject to repercussions should they transport, administer or dispense controlled substances while providing care outside of the locations where those substances are registered. Closing the loophole on this regulation has been particularly important for veterinarians who provide care in rural areas, respond to emergencies in the field, provide “house call” services for their clients, remove dangerous wild animals or rescue them from traps, conduct research and disease control efforts in the field, and provide routine medical care across state lines when they live on a state’s border. AVMA’s advocacy efforts led to more than 27,000 letters sent to members of Congress in support of this bill and the endorsement by over 130 veterinary medical and other organizations.
The Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act (H.R. 1528) was sponsored by the only two veterinarians serving in Congress—Reps. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) and Ted Yoho (R-Fla.)—and passed in the U.S. House on July 8. The bill mirrored a version (S. 1171) that passed in the Senate earlier this year, sponsored by Sens. Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) and Angus King (I-Maine). Due to congressional procedure, the Senate chose to pass the House version through unanimous consent on July 16 in order to send the bill to the president for signature.