President Barack Obama signed the Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act on Friday, making it legal for veterinarians to transport controlled substances beyond their brick-and-mortar practices.
The new law is two years in the making, representing the lobbying of thousands of practitioners as well as officials with the American Veterinary Medical Association.
Both chambers of Congress unanimously passed the measure.
“By passing and signing this legislation, the president and our legislators recognize the critical role veterinarians play in treating sick animals and relieving their pain and suffering,” AVMA President Dr. Ted Cohn said in a blog post.
The Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act amends the Controlled Substance Act (CSA) to permit veterinarians to freely transport the drugs they need to euthanize, anesthetize or manage pain in animals as long as they have a license to practice and are registered with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).
The DEA previously barred veterinarians from transporting, dispensing and administering controlled drugs away from where they are registered to handle them, per an interpretation of the CSA that many in the profession deemed to be overly restrictive.
Veterinarians often administer controlled substances for pain management, anesthesia and euthanasia. The newly revised CSA permits practitioners to carry and administer those drugs when providing medical care in rural areas, making house calls and responding to emergencies in the field.
The AVMA advises veterinarians who are still unclear about how to comply with the updated regulations to consult the Diversion Control Program Manager at their respective DEA field offices.