AVMA warns that veterinarians are not eligible to obtain NPI numbers

The AVMA is alerting veterinarians to let them know they are not eligible to obtain National Provider Identifier (NPI) numbers, which many pharmacies request as a prerequisite to filling prescriptions.

This new information comes from updated guidance by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), the AVMA said. According to the DHHS guidance, "NPI numbers are not eligible for veterinarians because they do not meet the regulatory definition of 'health care provider' as defined by 45 CFR 160.103."

Some veterinarians are even being rejected by pharmacies when they attempt to call in a prescription for clients because they don't have NPI numbers, the AVMA said.

Searching for a solution

According to Dr. Lynne White-Shim, assistant director in the AVMA's Division of Scientific Activities, veterinarians should still be able to order prescriptions from pharmacies despite not being eligible for NPI numbers. For this reason, the AVMA is currently engaging in dialogue with the DHHS to determine whether veterinarians may be able to use alternative prescriber identifier numbers to call prescriptions into pharmacies.

The AVMA is also requesting thoughts from the veterinary community about how to move forward, as well as information about individual states' rules regarding use of identifier numbers by prescribers, White-Shim said. She said she intends to share outside input with the AVMA's Council on Biologic and Therapeutic Agents and the Clinical Practitioners Advisory Committee.

Resources and action steps for veterinarians

While the AVMA gathers more information from the DHHS, the organization outlined several things veterinarians can do to make sure they are knowledgeable about the issue:

  • Deactivate any NPI numbers that were improperly obtained.
  • Study your state's rules on prescribing (find relevant resources in this AVMA article).
  • Review the DEA's Practitioner Manual, which says that DEA registration numbers should not be used for identification purposes. The AVMA wants to make sure that pharmacies don't begin asking veterinarians for DEA registration numbers in lieu of NPI numbers.

According to White-Shim, the AVMA will release more information from its knowledge-gathering process as it becomes available.

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