Federal legislation has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives which would significantly impact prescribing practices of veterinarians. H.R. 1406, the Fairness to Pet Owners Act, was introduced by Rep. Jim Matheson (UT-2) and Rep. Lee Terry (NE-2) on April 6th and referred to the House’s Energy and Commerce Committee.
H.R. 1406 would require the prescriber of an animal drug shall, whether or not requested, to:
- Provide a copy of the veterinary prescription and a written disclosure that the pet owner may fill the prescription through the prescriber or through another pharmacy and
- Provide or verify the prescription by electronic or other means consistent with applicable State law.
The prescriber would not be able to:
- Require purchase of the animal drug for which the veterinary prescription was written,
- Require payment in addition to, or as part of, the fee for an examination and evaluation as a condition of providing a copy of or verifying the prescription, or
- Require the pet owner to sign a waiver or disclaim liability, or deliver to the pet owner a notice waiving or disclaiming liability of the prescriber for the accuracy of the veterinary prescription.
The prescriber would be allowed to require payment of fees for an examination and evaluation before providing a veterinary prescription, but only if the prescriber requires immediate payment in the case of an examination that reveals no requirement for an animal drug.
This legislation is modeled after the Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act, which passed in 2003, which placed similar requirements on optometrists regarding contact lens prescriptions. Bill proponents include Wal-Mart and PetMed Express.
Request from AVMA*
AVMA is asking for members assistance in contacting Congressional offices expressing opposition to this bill. Of particularly importance at this time are contacts to Rep. Bob Latta (OH-5), who sits on the Energy & Commerce Committee, the committee to which this bill was referred and has to pass through before it can go to the full House for a vote.
The AVMA has an official position of “Active Pursuit of Defeat” of H.R. 1406, the Fairness to Pet Owners Act. AVMA maintains its policy stating that veterinarians should honor a client’s request for a written prescription in lieu of dispensing. The AVMA Governmental Relations Division has been working on this issue since last summer; however it is important for constituents to reach out to their Congressional representatives.