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Feb 1, 2012 9:23 AM

Changes for pet prescriptions

TUCSON - Changes could be on the way when it comes to getting medication for your pets. A new bill could require veterinarians to write a prescription. Right now, you have to ask for one if you want to get it filled somewhere besides the vet's office.

It's called ‘The Fairness to Pet Owners Act of 2011' or H.R. 1406

Veterinary organizations are already speaking out about a bill in its beginning stages, saying these regulations are redundant and could be dangerous in the long run. Concern from vet clinics and the American Veterinary Medical Association begins with the name of the bill.

"The motivation, in the veterinary community, is questionable to us, as far as, did the pet owners really request this or is this something as a money maker for the big box pharmacies," says Erin O'Donnell, owner of Northwest Pet Clinic.

If it passes, vets would be required to write a prescription for the patient whether they'd fill it in house or not.

"In the state of Arizona we actually are already legally required to provide a written prescription to a pet owner upon request and so to make it a requirement seems, again, redundant and unnecessary."

Some places will ask up front so the owner at least knows they have the option.

"It seems like that would be standard practice and I'm very glad that my vet does it. I'm kind of surprised that others don't," says Lyle Brown, pet owner.

Vets would also have to provide written notification that prescriptions can be filled elsewhere.

"It's convenient and if I know she needs something right away then I can get it, and get it to her and if I've got a little more time then I can shop around for prices."

Supporters of the bill say clinics are upset about a possible loss of income.

"On one hand it is a little bit about the money because we do get some income from pharmaceuticals, but we have savvy shopper pet owners that know that they can shop around," says O'Donnell.

Veterinarians say they're more worried about pet safety.

"We're turning over the dispensing of medications to our patients to companies that don't have veterinarians on staff."

This bill was introduced in April of 2011 and is still in committee, the first step of the legislative process.

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