Today, the U.S. Senate passed the Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act (H.R. 1528) -- originally introduced by U.S. Senators Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Angus King (I-Maine) -- which would allow veterinarians to carry and dispense controlled substances to protect the health and welfare of the nation's animals, ensure public safety, and safeguard the nation's food supply. The legislation -- introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Reps. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) and Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) -- passed the House last week.
The bipartisan legislation is also cosponsored by U.S. Senators John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Michael Enzi (R-Wyo.), Kristen Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) and Richard Burr (R-N.C.).
"The passage of this legislation is important for the veterinarians who help ensure public safety and care for animals in Kansas and across the country," Sen. Moran said. "By legalizing the transportation and dispensation of controlled substances, licensed practitioners will be equipped with the tools they need. It is particularly important for practitioners who work in rural areas, conduct research or respond to emergency situations."
"The passage of this bill is a victory for rural farmers and veterinarians across the country -- from the small dairy farms of central Maine, to the expansive ranches of California, and everywhere in between," Sen. King said. "This bill's success is also a powerful reminder that when we work across the aisle to find common ground, we can actually accomplish common goals in Washington."
"The Veterinary Mobility Act is a big win for animal health, public health, and rural communities across the country. By ensuring that veterinarians can travel to their patients to administer safe, humane care, we can better serve animals and protect our nation's food supply," said Sen. Debbie Stabenow, Chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee.
"I am pleased that the full House and Senate could agree to help our veterinarians," Sen. Roberts said. "This commonsense legislation allows registered veterinarians to better practice veterinary medicine, which often requires traveling to farms and fields away from their office location."
"This legislation eliminates an unnecessary bureaucratic rule that clearly didn't recognize that veterinary care, by its very nature, is not limited to clinics," Sen. Thad Cochran said. "Removing this requirement for licensed, registered veterinarians will give them the freedom to do the work we count on to ensure public safety, our food supply and animal welfare."
"A "house call' is likely just what the doctor ordered. Forcing a farmer to load a sick animal into a trailer for a possibly long trip to the vet's office is simply not a practical solution," Sen. Grassley said. "The burden of this particular interpretation of the Controlled Substances Act is nonsensical and may put the animal and the farmer at risk by having to transport the animal."
"Wyoming veterinarians will be soon be able to provide better care to livestock thanks to legislation the Senate passed overwhelmingly today. Allowing vets to carry and dispense the medicine their patients need into the field will have an immediate impact in rural and remote areas where transporting livestock to the nearest town just isn't practical or possible," Sen. Enzi said.
"It simply makes sense to clarify federal law to ensure that licensed veterinarians have the ability to travel with the medicines that they need to treat their animal patients," said Sen. Collins.
The 1970 Controlled Substances Act (CSA) stipulates that controlled substances must be stored and dispensed at the specific address veterinarians have on file with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The DEA enforces the CSA and has informed organized veterinary medicine that without a statutory change, veterinarians are in violation and cannot legally provide complete veterinary care.
The practice of veterinary medicine requires veterinarians to treat patients in a variety of settings; farm calls, mobile clinics, shelters, research and disease control activities, emergency response situations, and removal or transfer of dangerous wildlife.
The legislation is endorsed by the American Veterinary Medical Association and now awaits President Obama's signature before becoming law.