Veterinarians Almost Cleared to Travel with Drugs
Those of you who followed me over on Fully Vetted might remember last year’s discussion about the Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act. To my relief, it passed the Senate earlier this month. While it’s not yet law (the House of Representatives still has to vote and then President Obama must sign it), I’m celebrating the fact that I’m one step closer to once again being in the good graces of legal system.
You see, I am a house call veterinarian who specializes in end of life care. That means that I administer a lot of controlled substances to my patients — opioids for pain, anesthetics for sedation, and, of course, euthanasia solution … lots and lots of euthanasia solution. On a daily basis, my clients tell me how thankful they are that they don’t have to make the trip back and forth to the veterinary clinic to get their pets this much needed care. Instead, everyone involved is able to spend these last days together in the comfort of their own homes.
Little do they know that I’m breaking the law to give them that peace of mind.
The Controlled Substances Act (CSA) is the federal law that regulates the manufacture, importation, possession, use, and distribution of drugs and chemicals with a potential for abuse or dependency. As the CSA is currently written, it is illegal for a veterinarian to take a controlled substance off of the site that is registered with the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). In most cases, this is the veterinarian’s clinic, for mobile practitioners like me it is often a home or office.
I understand the responsibility that comes with transporting addictive and potentially lethal medications out into the community. My vehicle and “black bag” are unmarked, making them less obvious targets for thieves. I carry all of my medications in a locked box so that they don’t inadvertently become accessible to curious fingers. With the help of some common sense precautions, controlled substances can be used safely outside of the clinic setting. The benefits of doing so certainly outweigh the risks.
The Senate Bill (S.1171) is the fix we need. It amends the CSA in part by saying:
A registrant who is a veterinarian shall not be required to have a separate registration in order to transport and dispense controlled substances in the usual course of veterinary practice at a site other than the registrant’s registered principal place of business or professional practice, so long as the site of transporting and dispensing is located in a State where the veterinarian is licensed to practice veterinary medicine and is not a principal place of business or professional practice.
So simple. What do you think; can we count on the House to see the wisdom of passing their version of the Senate bill (HR 1528)? I’m not willing to bet my DEA license and career on it. Please contact your U.S. Representative and ask that he or she support the Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act. Surely providing appropriate veterinary care to animals who can’t make the trip to a veterinary clinic is a bipartisan issue that everyone can support.
Dr. Jennifer Coatea