Saturday, May 21, 2011

US: Bill would level playing field for veterinary prescriptions

A bill recently introduced as H.R. 1406 in the US House of Representatives would make access to prescription medical services in veterinary medicine more comparable to human medicine.  Among other things, the bill would require veterinarians to write written prescriptions for the medicines they prescribe, and offer information about medication dispensation options outside of the veterinary practice.

Disappointingly, but perhaps not surprisingly, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) is mounting a lobbying effort to kill H.R. 1406.

The bill's sponsor, Utah Representative Jim Matheson, believes that veterinary consumers should have better access to a competitive market for prescription veterinary medications.  "This bill simply gives pet owners the same right to shop around for the best prices on the medications they buy for their pets as they have for products they buy for themselves." Matheson says that the legislation was modeled after the Contact Lens Consumers Act, with the intent of giving pet owners a copy of the written prescription so they can shop around.

"Having the written prescription would give consumers the ability to comparison shop. One study of 18 common pet medication found that on average consumers who purchase from prescribers pay a 248 percent markup over average wholesale prices," Matheson says.

But the AVMA wants to kill the bill, stating that it places an undue regulatory burden on veterinarians.

The Pet Health Action Network disagrees with the AVMA, and has launched its own initiative in the form of a petition drive to give consumers of veterinary services a way to make their voices heard.  Please sign the petition here:

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