Veterinarians may soon be able to legally provide necessary pain treatment to their patients, assuming that the Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act of 2013 is enacted into law, as many predict, following its passage in the U.S. House of Representatives on July 8, 2014.

As reported on bill-sponsor U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader’s website, “Congressman Kurt Schrader (D-OR) today praised the unanimous passage of H.R. 1528, the Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act, legislation he authored along with fellow veterinarian Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL).  The bill would clarify that it is legal for veterinarians to carry and dispense controlled substances to ensure they are able to provide proper care for their animal patients, so long as they are licensed in the state in which they practice and registered with the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).”

As previously discussed, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) had recently informed the veterinary community of its seemingly new interpretation of the long-standing law governing the ability of veterinarians with ambulatory practices to travel with controlled substances in their vehicles on their rounds to treat patients.

As reported by Jennifer Fiala for The VIN News Service, the DEA moved away from its historic position of permitting veterinarians to transport controlled substances with them to treat animals, without separately registering each premises, and informed the industry of its new interpretation of the law that requires the registration of each premises at which controlled substances are administered or dispensed.

This places veterinarians in the cross hairs of state laws governing the practice of veterinary medicine (which require veterinarians to provide the accepted standards of veterinary care, including the administration of controlled substances for the management of pain, when indicated, or euthanasia when humane) and the federal Controlled Substances Act (which, according to DEA, seemingly disallows that practice without individual premises registration).

More importantly, pet and livestock owners who rely on ambulatory veterinary practitioners (veterinarians who travel to homes and farms to treat owner’s animals on-site), expect their animals to be treated properly.

Most significantly, veterinarians, trained to provide that care, should not be worried that providing the care they believe is required could be interpreted as a violation of the Controlled Substances Act, which could result criminal or administrative charges.

Hopefully, these theoretical issues (I am not aware of any veterinarian who has been charged with any such violations) will be put to bed with the signing of this important law.