Blog: Election results pose obstacles for veterinary prescription law


Flip in U.S. Senate's majority may slow progress of Fairness to Pet Owners Act.

The American veterinary profession ends its fourth year battling legislation in Congress that seeks to drive pet owners to big box retailers for their pet medications. The fight began after the first Fairness to Pet Owners bill emerged on Capitol Hill in the summer and fall of 2010. With some credit due to nationwide veterinary and industry outreach, the House version lacked enough support and interest to warrant a committee hearing.

However, we were thrown a curve this summer when Democratic Senators Chuck Schumer (New York) and Richard Blumenthal (Connecticut) introduced a Senate version similar to the original House bill. Considering Sen. Schumer's clout within the Senate Democratic Caucus and its majority status, we faced the strong likelihood of hearings starting in 2015. The recent election changed the situation. 

As I write this blog on Nov. 9, we know Republicans have gained the majority with at least 52 of the 100 Senate seats. They could pick up two more as the dust settles in Alaska and when Louisiana holds its December runoff. The Democratic caucus leadership no longer controls the agenda in the Senate, and the risk of a committee hearing is reduced. Our opponents face a steep hill.

However, this does not mean there is no risk. 

We know that one Republican, Utah's Mike Lee, is a co-sponsor of the bill. If our profession remains vigilant during the next six months, we may add a win in the Senate to our House victory. 2015 will mark five years waging this fight, but it could be the final year.

An additional issue confronts our field. 

Debate continues about whether the U.S. Department of Education should create a new agency to oversee accreditation of veterinary colleges in America. We will return to this topic next week.

Stay tuned.

Mark Cushing, JD, is founding partner of the Animal Policy Group, providing government relations and strategic services for various animal health, veterinary and educational interests. He maintains offices in Portland, Ore., and Washington, D.C., and is a frequent speaker at veterinary conferences.

The Veterinary Policy Notes blog on helps veterinarians and other animal health professionals keep abreast of the growing number of issues, political challenges and regulatory initiatives affecting the veterinary profession, animal health industry and animal welfare movement. The views and opinions presented are those of the author.

Related Videos
© 2024 MJH Life Sciences

All rights reserved.