Blog: Pet medications issue stirring in Senate, FTC

Too soon to tell if new activity will move government closer to mandatory veterinary prescriptions.
source-image
Aug 04, 2014

Rumors abound that Senators Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) are poised to file a Senate version of Rep. Jim Matheson (D-Utah)’s H.R. 4023, the latest Fairness to Pet Owners bill. Unlike many political rumors, these appear to be true and we anticipate the legislation to be filed shortly. We also expect the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) staff, after 22 months, to submit a draft report of the October 2012 Pet Medications Workshop proceedings to FTC leadership for review and consideration. So what to make of all this anticipated activity?

Well, we don’t know who is behind the potential Senate bill other than the two members, and the answer may be no one or major commercial interests. We’ll wait and see. Given the dynamics in the House with no broad interest in the issue and the chief House sponsor’s imminent retirement, it’s hard to imagine that big box retailers believe that their odds are about to improve significantly. But it could mean that they are pushing Senators Schumer and Blumenthal to ensure that a hearing is held in 2015 to position their commercial issue on the public radar. Or it could be a placeholder. Let’s hold our judgment until we have more information.

As for the FTC, the submission of a report from staff to the commission is a common next step following a workshop, although 22 months seems like a long delay. The commission may approve, reject, edit, table or issue the report—and is subject to no timetable. Which means we must continue to wait and can only speculate whether the issue of mandatory pet prescriptions becomes an official FTC matter.

Meanwhile, AVMA wrapped up a successful annual convention in Denver, a polished host city, and this blogger enjoyed the opportunity to debate three colleagues last Monday on the familiar topic of alleged veterinary oversupply. Suffice it to say that both sides of the opinion spectrum were on vigorous display. Keep an eye on dvm360 for more to come on the topic.

Mark Cushing, JD, is founding partner of the Animal Policy Group, providing government relations and strategic services for various animal health, veterinary and educational interests. He maintains offices in Portland, Ore., and Washington, D.C., and is a frequent speaker at veterinary conferences.

The Veterinary Policy Notes blog on dvm360.com helps veterinarians and other animal health professionals keep abreast of the growing number of issues, political challenges and regulatory initiatives affecting the veterinary profession, animal health industry and animal welfare movement.