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What is the Fairness to Pet Owners Act?

August 10, 2017

Once again, Congress has introduced legislation to mandate how veterinarians across the United States issue prescriptions and dispense medicines for your pets. Like most bills before our nation's legislative branch, there are two sides with differing opinions, as to how the "Fairness to Pet Owners Act" (H.R. 623) will affect veterinarians and pet owners. It is not the intent of this blog to take either side; instead, we feel it is important for all involved to have a better understanding of the proposed legislation. Listed below are the objectives and concerns expressed by major advocacy groups for both sides of federal prescription mandates.

Pros: The Fairness to Pet Owners Act

A leading proponent of the bill before Congress is the Advocacy for Pets and Affordable Wellness. The APAW is a coalition that promotes the well-being of pets and seeks to empower pet owners to demand affordable, quality health care and medicine for all companion animals. It is the APAW's belief that pet owners have a right to receive a written prescription that will allow them to seek the best prices. By opening the door to large retailers, it is believed that prices for pet prescriptions will be lower. It should be noted that most veterinarians in Florida already provide prescriptions to pet owners upon request.

Cons: The Fairness to Pet Owners Act

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) opposes the bill before Congress because it will require veterinarians to spend more time on paperwork which takes away time spent providing pet care. In addition, the mandate would likely cause veterinary clinics to incur additional administrative expenses to meet unnecessary federal regulations. Thirty-six states have statutes or have issued policy statements that require veterinarians to provide pet owners with a written prescription upon request. This is consistent with the AVMA's Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics.

Florida Statutes (Chapter 474 Veterinary Medical Practice)

Under Florida Law, veterinarians are already subject to disciplinary actions if (before dispensing any medications) they fail to give a pet owner a written prescription when requested.

In conclusion, advocates that are in favor of the new legislation offer a valid argument that by making it easier for large discount pharmacies to compete for pet owner's business could result in lower prices for pet prescriptions. Advocates against federal legislation argue that adding red tape to the administrative side of pet care risks an overall increase in the cost of routine veterinary care. At PrimeVET, we are dedicated to providing your pet the very best veterinary care, and support our pet owner's rights to have a prescription filled by either our veterinary office or a licensed pharmacy. Whether you feel federal laws are needed or think State statutes provide adequate protection of your interests, it is your right. But, it is misleading to suggest that veterinarians who oppose additional legislation believe in "unfairness to pet owners", as that is incorrect.

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