About-face by Florida regulators eases permit policy for DVMs

Refunds are on the agenda, FVMA says

January 14, 2009 (published)
By Jennifer Fiala

The Florida Veterinary Medical Association (FVMA) plans to soon post information for veterinarians seeking refunds for the $255 permits they purchased before state regulators relaxed a new policy that requires them.

On Dec. 30, the Florida Department of Health changed its tune concerning new Health Care Clinic Establishment (HCCE) Permits, which were put in place to answer a previously ignored law that bars veterinary practices from mass ordering drugs for use by their entire staff of veterinarians.

Florida law mandates that individual veterinarians can only purchase drugs for their individual use in practice. HCCE Permits, due in veterinary practices by Jan. 1, were established to bring practitioners into compliance with the once-overlooked law and allow corporations to purchase and maintain prescription drugs to be dispensed by all practitioners in their employ.

So who needed the permits? Initially, almost everyone did. It was originally relayed that only solo practitioners who ordered drugs in their respective names were exempt, and that didn’t cover relief veterinarians. Specifically, veterinarians working in a group practice or a solo veterinarian ordering his or her drugs through a corporation or clinic name were required to obtain the HCCE Permit, FVMA officials explain.

Now that’s all changed.

According to Amber Smith, FVMA’s director of communications and public relations, things have been simplified as a result of back-and-forth negotiations between the association and state regulators.

Now just one veterinarian in a group practice needs a HCCE Permit, and that’s to order prescription drugs in the name of the corporation or clinic. That person is responsible for ordering and maintaining the drugs as well as keeping records. Other veterinarians in the same practice can administer and dispense drugs from a qualifying practitioner’s inventory. The same goes for relief veterinarians working for solo practitioners.

“They’ve totally flip-flopped,” says Smith of state regulators. “For our members, it’s nice to see this.”

Yet a new problem has arisen concerning veterinarians who’ve already paid $255 for HCCE Permits and now do not need them. According to state law, Smith says, the department has 90 days to mail permits, which didn’t begin going out until Jan. 5, despite the Jan. 1 deadline for practitioners to obtain them. Considering the late start, practitioners likely will have a long wait before repayments are issued, she says.

“We’re trying to nail the state down now about the refunds and how to go about getting them,” Smith says.

To view the status of HCCE Permits, visit The FVMA will issue a report on permit refunds at

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