Request for Comments and Announcement of Workshop on Pet Medications Issues, Project No. P121201
I am writing to express my concerns regarding HR 1406, the so-called Fairness to Pet Owners Act of 2011. The broad language and poor structure of this bill disturb me as a veterinarian, writer, and citizen. I am no longer in private veterinary practice, so I have no personal financial stake in the outcome of this bill. However, the language in HR 1406 raises the following concerns: 1. Veterinarians are uniquely educated and qualified to understand the effects of pharmaceuticals upon each of their patient species. Human pharmacists are only trained in the effects of medications upon humans. Human and animal physiologies vary significantly, and different species metabolize certain chemicals in drastically different ways. 2. In accordance with the AVMA code of ethics, veterinarians already offer prescriptions to outside pharmacies upon client request. However, the current circumstances allow the veterinarian to vet or verify the credential of internet-based pharmacies and to counsel owners regarding the potential for errors inherent in filling prescriptions with a non-veterinary or remote pharmacy. 3. HR 1406 lacks exceptional language which would carve out the necessary exceptions of providing medication in emergency or hospitalization situations. I have been informed by an attorney that the bill, as currently written, could be interpreted to mean that veterinarians would be required to write prescriptions for any circumstances involving prescription medication even to the ludicrous extreme of requiring written prescriptions for medications or anesthesia administered to hospitalized patients. It is my understanding that this extremely broad writing is atypical for this type of bill. 4. Also atypical for a bill of this nature is a lack of language regarding pre-emption of state statutes. The only section of the bill addressing pre-emption in any way is Section 4 Prescriber Verification and State Law which states: Nothing in this Act shall preempt applicable State law with regard to verification of a veterinary prescription. This language seems only to address the verification of licensing of the veterinary provider. It does not address the ramifications of differing consequences of violation where state and federal law on this matter coexist. 5. Returning to the first point of this list, this bill provides no safeguard for the prescription process at the pharmacy level. Is the pharmacist required to provide species-specific counseling to the owner regarding the medication as a veterinarian would For that matter, within this bill, there is no definition of Pharmacy or what would constitute a legitimate filling service for these mandated prescriptions. If veterinarians are forbidden by this bill to require or deliver a waiver of liability (Section 2 (2)(A)(iii)), then who bears the liability in the event of a prescription filling error by a less than legitimate supplier (an internet-based firm, for instance.) HR 1406 is not about protecting the pet owner. It is about guaranteeing another source of revenue for chain and internet based pharmacies. HR 1406 unfairly targets veterinarians without regulating any of the other professions involved in the prescription filling process, ie. pharmacists, pharmacy owners, and pharmaceutical manufacturers. HR 1406 is a redundant piece of legislation, attempting to enforce a practice most veterinarians provide willingly, but stripping the same veterinarians of the ability to adequately counsel their clients regarding the prescription process. HR 1406 seeks to profit large corporations by preying on the fears of an economically challenged country, and in doing so, poses a substantial risk to animal welfare.