HR 4023 advances to the Senate

HR 4023, a source of contention within the veterinary profession since it made its first appearance in 2011, is now headed to the Senate for consideration.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) will sponsor the bill, which they are touting as a solution to lowering pet owners' costs for medication, the Epoch Times reported.

"Too many pet owners are leashed to their vets," Blumenthal said during a July 20 press conference. "Too many consumers are caged by vets who charge them as much as 240-percent markup from wholesale drug prices."

The bill would require veterinarians to provide pet owners with copies of prescriptions - whether or not they request it - to allow pet owners to comparison shop at pharmacies or online drugstores. The proposed measure also specifies that veterinarians cannot charge for prescriptions or ask clients to sign a liability waiver regarding the written prescription.

Ashley Morgan, DVM, assistant director of the AVMA Governmental Relations Division, responded to news of the bill by writing that the AVMA is displeased that the senators are introducing the legislation "under the guise of saving consumers money on their pets' medications."

Morgan wrote that veterinarians are being portrayed as a group that attempts to protect revenue generated by medication sales by purposely withholding prescriptions from clients. This portrayal of veterinarians is far from the truth, Morgan said.

"The senators believe that veterinarians oppose this legislation because of a need to protect a revenue-generating business," she wrote. "However, the truth is that the vast majority of veterinarians are fulfilling clients' requests for prescriptions when asked, and they focus on finding the most economical medications that will do the job."

If passed, the proposed legislation would impact veterinarians across the United States, considering that only two states currently require veterinarians to provide prescriptions, the Epoch Times reported. Seventeen states enable pet owners to receive prescriptions upon request, and 31 states have no requirements regarding dispensing prescriptions.