Proposed changes to Controlled Substance Act aim to restore veterinarians' mobility

Veterinarians needing to take their show on the road have had their tires flattened by the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), but they could soon regain their mobility if Congress passes the recently introduced Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act of 2013 (H.R. 1528).

The bill - introduced by U.S. Reps. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) and Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) - will legally permit veterinarians to take controlled substances outside of their registered locations for the purposes of pain management, anesthesia, and euthanasia, according to an AVMA news release.

The AVMA reported that its Governmental Relations Division has been hard at work in its effort to amend the CSA so that veterinarians will be free to treat patients in geographically dispersed locations.

"As Congressmen Schrader and Yoho can attest, being a veterinarian does not start and stop within the walls of the veterinary clinic. Animals come in all shapes and sizes, and live and roam in a variety of settings," said Dr. Mark Lutschaunig, director of AVMA's Governmental Relations Division. "To provide complete care for their animal patients, veterinarians must have the ability to transport the medications they need beyond their brick-and-mortar clinics. On behalf of the U.S. veterinary profession, we are pleased to see this legislation introduced and we encourage Congress to pass it quickly for the health and welfare of the nation's animals, to safeguard public safety and to protect the nation's food supply."

According to the AVMA, the current language in the CSA makes it difficult for veterinarians who need to venture outside of their registered locations to treat diverse species. The AVMA raised several examples of situations where veterinarians may need to bring controlled substances to an outside location, including:

  • In rural areas where it is not possible to bring large animals or livestock to veterinary clinics or hospitals.
  • In emergency situations where veterinarians must care for an animal onsite.
  • When helping to remove, rescue, or translocate dangerous wildlife and other wild animals.
  • When conducting house calls or operating mobile veterinary clinics.
  • When conducting field research and disease control efforts outside of their principal places of business.

The effort has garnered substantial support from the veterinary community, as evidenced by the more than 110 U.S. veterinary medical organizations and associations that have signed a statement of support for the Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act.

Rep. Yoho said he is urging the government to discard the bureaucratic red tape so veterinarians can more easily travel to their patients when necessary.

"Veterinarians protect public health and keep our food supply the best and safest in the world. This is another example of a well-intentioned regulation getting in the way of highly trained professionals trying to do their jobs efficiently," Yoho said. "Veterinarians like us must be able to travel to treat animals, and in emergency cases, any veterinarian should be able to get to the animal - and the community - in need. The government should facilitate this important work and not allow it to be debilitated with bureaucracy." 

Additional resources

The AVMA is encouraging veterinarians to take action by voicing their opinions to Congress about the need for changes to the CSA. Visit the AVMA Legislation Center to learn more.

The organization has also created an infographic explaining the need for veterinarians to use controlled substances in various settings.