Confusion in California over controlled drugs

California veterinarians are getting a mixed message from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) regarding controlled drugs, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).

The AVMA says that veterinarians in the Sacramento area were recently contacted by the regional DEA office and asked to confirm that their DEA license was associated with a residence. At that time, veterinarians were also reminded that federal regulations prohibited them from carrying controlled drugs out of the location associated with their DEA registration.

The AVMA says that according to the national DEA office, there has not been a change in the DEA’s interpretation or enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act. The review of registration applications in California appears to be the result of a regional office confirming that the applicant’s principal place of business was indeed a residential address, the AVMA said.

Prohibiting veterinary practices from being allowed to transport controlled substances out of their DEA registration location would make it difficult for veterinarians to appropriately practice medicine.

"Of course, such a prohibition would prevent many veterinary practices from being able to serve their patients and clients," the AVMA said.

The Act mandates that practitioners cannot take controlled drugs out of the location at which they are registered with the DEA; the AVMA, however, contends that in the past, it has been told that the veterinary profession is generally not a target of enforcement in this area, and that the DEA understands that the act does not take into consideration the unique aspects of veterinary medicine that require flexibility in the regulations.

According to the AVMA, it will require a statutory change through federal legislation to address the issue.

The AVMA says it is working to address issues with the DEA’s enforcement of the Act with a letter and face-to-face meetings with DEA administrators. The AVMA is also coordinating a letter to Congress, which the association hopes will be signed by state VMAs and allied organizations.

What does the AVMA recommend practices do in the meantime? Here are some guidelines to follow:

· There is no need to change your practices or procedures regarding DEA registration and recordkeeping or administration/dispensing of controlled substances.

· If you list your residence as the address associated with your DEA registration and you receive a request to confirm that information, complete the confirmation form and return it as directed.

· If you receive any communication from your area DEA office that is of concern to you or you have questions regarding compliance with regulations, please notify your state VMA.

· Review your practices and procedures to ensure that they are in compliance.

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