HR 1406, a U.S. House of Representatives bill that would require veterinarians to provide their clients with a written prescription for any medication they prescribe, is “dead this year,” says Mark Lutschaunig, VMD, MBA, director of the Governmental Relations Division for the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).
Lutschaunig made this pronouncement during the AVMA’s House of Delegates meeting Thursday, Aug. 2, before the AVMA 2012 Convention kicks off this weekend. “The bill has five co-sponsors—this has not changed since it was introduced—there is no Senate version of the bill, and it has not been discussed since it was referred to committee,” Lutschaunig told the House of Delegates attendees. “From what we can determine the bill is dead this year.”
House Resolution 1406, titled the Fairness to Pet Owners Act, was introduced in April 2011 by Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah. Besides requiring veterinarians to provide written disclosure to pet owners about off-site pharmacy options—even if the veterinary hospital dispenses the medication itself—the bill would also require veterinarians to verify prescriptions presented by those empowered to speak on the pet owner’s behalf. The new rules would also prohibit veterinarians from charging a prescription-writing fee or requiring clients to sign a waiver of liability should the veterinary prescription be filled inaccurately.
The AVMA has been actively seeking to defeat the bill by lobbying on Capitol Hill and requesting members to contact Congress and express their views. The AVMA says the bill is redundant with already-existing AVMA guidelines, encroaches on state law and would place undue administrative burdens on veterinary practices. It has also stated that veterinarians are uniquely qualified to make decisions and recommendations on pet healthcare treatment and medications within a specific veterinarian-client-patient relationship.
Lutschaunig told AVMA delegates that there was a good chance the bill would be reintroduced next year. “We’ll definitely be keeping an eye on it,” he said.