In its ongoing effort to curtail illegal drug use, transport and smuggling, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is going after those folks who for decades have traveled openly with antibiotics, painkillers, vaccines and other subcutaneous injections: Veterinarians.
Yes, DEA's interpretation of the Controlled Substance Act stretches to those who care for and treat 1,500-pound patients in pens and fields.
DEA has said that federal regulations make it illegal for veterinary registrants to transport controlled substances for use outside of their registered locations—i.e.—their offices. The DEA also informed organized veterinary medicine associations that the CSA would require a statutory change to allow veterinarians to legally provide complete veterinary care.
Last fall, a California veterinarian received notification from DEA that he was in violation of the act because he carried medicines in a locked box in his vehicle (which many mobile vets do). By locking controlled substances in a box on the truck, veterinarians were told they would be in compliance with the law and that CSA would not be enforced in regard to their work.
Meanwhile, veterinarians in both California and Washington have received DEA letters telling them they are in violation of the law.
This month, more than 210 organizations forwarded a letter to Congress urging the passage of the Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act of 2013 (H.R. 1528), which is being championed by Rep. Kurt Schrader of Oregon. The legislation amends the CSA to allow veterinarians to transport, administer and dispense controlled substances outside of their registered locations.
Specifically, the organizations' Statement of Support letter noted the challenges that the DEA ruling carries:
"The undersigned organizations urge Congress to pass the Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act of 2013, which is being championed by U.S. Representative Kurt Schrader (D-OR-5).
"The legislation amends the Controlled Substances Act to allow veterinarians to transport, administer and dispense controlled substances outside of their registered locations.
"The practice of veterinary medicine is unique in that veterinarians treat multiple species of animals in a wide variety of settings. To adequately practice medicine, veterinarians are often required to provide mobile or ambulatory services in the field. This is particularly important in rural areas and for the care of large animals because it is often not feasible, practical or possible for owners to bring their livestock (i.e., cows, pigs, horses, sheep, and goats) to a brick-and-mortar clinic or hospital. Also, many companion animal veterinarians provide 'house call' services for their patients or may operate mobile spay and neuter veterinary clinics. In addition, some veterinarians throughout the course of their daily duties may use controlled substances to remove or translocate dangerous wildlife (e.g. bears, cougars); to rescue trapped wildlife (e.g. deer trapped in a fence); or in research and disease control efforts."
The bill was introduced April 12 and referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee as well as the Judiciary Committee.
How DEA officials figure that non-transportable domesticated animals and wildlife would receive humane medical care is beyond me.
There is a possibility this bill might be added to farm bill discussions coming up. Minnesota's Rep. Collin Peterson has already supported the vet medicine mobility act. Contact your lawmakers and make sure they are behind it, too.