Critical veterinary medication law passes Senate, faces action in House

News items of relevance to our profession …

The New York Times recently had an article on home hospice care for pets. While veterinarians have been providing at-home euthanasia services and palliative care for years, providing these services as part of a specialty mobile practice is indeed a relatively new trend, and a welcome one. But this compassionate extension of veterinary medicine’s reach is at risk unless Congress passes the Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act. From the AVMA:

Veterinarians treat animals in various settings. To provide complete care, veterinarians often need to travel with and use controlled substances — vital medications that can provide pain management, anesthesia or euthanasia. However, the Drug Enforcement Administration says that the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) does not permit veterinarians to take these medications beyond their registered places of business, often their veterinary clinics or homes. The DEA has notified some veterinarians that they are in violation of the law — leaving them confused and concerned.

The bill has bipartisan support. It was introduced by one of two veterinarian members of congress, Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR) and co-sponsored by the other, Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL). It doesn’t lack for support from the rest of Congress, either, with more than 100 other co-sponsors. Last week it cleared the Senate, and it’s time to let the House know it has support.  Here’s a link to the AVMA’s advocacy page, if you think it’s worthy of your attention – and I hope you do!

Hashtags for a cure: November was Pet Cancer Awareness month, and at VPI we took it pretty seriously. I wrote an article for Vetstreet that was picked up by Yahoo on ways to reduce cancer risk in pets:

Just like in human medicine, veterinary wellness care can help prevent some illnesses and catch others early enough that treatment may be more effective. Not surprisingly, we in the pet health insurance industry have been offering more support for wellness care because we know this approach works better for pets and their loved ones. That’s especially true when we talk about cancer.
Despite all your good efforts, your pet may still get cancer, and if that happens, don’t blame yourself. While we are all initially terrified when we hear the word “cancer,” there have never been more options for care, especially when cancer is caught early — which is one more reason to commit to consistent wellness care

But all the awareness in the world will stop cancer, which is why we also launched a social media campaign, #curepetcancer. We pledged to donate $5 to the Animal Cancer Foundation for every treat, FB or Instagram post with #curepetcancer, up to $10,000. We hit our goal before the end of the month, so raised our commitment, and made it to $17,065! If you’re looking for resources for your clients, check out our information, here.

No end in sight for Immiticide shortage: The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that the sole American manufacturer of Immiticide will shut down soon, leading the U.S. Food and drug Administration to approve the continued importation of the drug from a European manufacturer:

For years, dog owners and veterinarians have been faced with a shortage of the only FDA-approved medication to treat heartworm in dogs — a shortage, it turns out, connected to a Northeast Ohio drug manufacturer. [… T]he FDA approved continuing to import the drug from Europe — just weeks away from the shutdown of Bedford-based Ben Venue Laboratories Inc., the sole U.S. supplier of the drug, Immiticide.
Ben Venue had been making Immiticide (the brand name of melarsomine dihydrochloride) for Duluth-based Merial, the animal health arm of Sanofi, according to labeling information for the drug. Merial is now working with the FDA to import some of the drug from Europe until another U.S. supplier is approved, according to the company.

We need to let clients know about this, and the severe consequences of non-compliance with veterinary recommended parasite prevention. Thanks to the AVMA’s Smartbrief team for finding this one.