The Impact of the Opioid Issue in Veterinary Medicine

Jul 17, 2018 | Care & Wellness, Medications, Updates

By: Dr. Jaclyn Erwin

Opioid and prescription drug abuse in the US has become a major concern in human health with regulations being implemented for human medical practitioners. With the continued concern for abuse, these regulations are now extending to veterinary medicine. As of July 1, 2018, veterinarians in the state of Virginia will be required to participate fully in the Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP), a database containing information on “dispensed covered substances,” pertaining to controlled drugs and “drugs of concern,” defined as a “drug or substance where there has been or there is the actual or relative potential for abuse.”

The Code of Virginia states the following:

§ 54.1-2519. Definitions.
“Covered substance” means all controlled substances included in Schedules II, III, and IV and all drugs of concern that are required to be reported to the Prescription Monitoring Program, pursuant to this chapter. (Note: The definition for “Covered substance” was amended in HB1556 and is effective on July 1, 2018. The amended definition will stated the following: “Covered substance” means all controlled substances included in Schedules II, III, and IV; controlled substances included in Schedule V for which a prescription is required; naloxone; and all drugs of concern that are required to be reported to the Prescription Monitoring Program, pursuant to this chapter.)
§ 54.1-3456.1. Drugs of concern.
A. The Board may promulgate regulations designating specific drugs and substances, including any controlled substance or other drug or substance where there has been or there is the actual or relative potential for abuse, as drugs of concern. Drugs or substances designated as drugs of concern shall be reported to the Department of Health Professions and shall be subject to reporting requirements for the Prescription Monitoring Program established pursuant to Chapter 25.2 (§ 54.1-2519 et seq.).
B. Drugs and substances designated as drugs of concern shall include any material, compound, mixture, or preparation that contains any quantity of the substance tramadol or gabapentin, including its salts. Drugs and substances designated as drugs of concern shall not include any nonnarcotic drug that may be lawfully sold over the counter or behind the counter without a prescription.
Note: Gabapentin, a Schedule VI controlled substance, is currently the only drug of concern that must be reported to the PMP. In addition, the dispensing of naloxone must also be reported.

Under these new guidelines, veterinarians must decide to not dispense any controlled drugs or drugs of concern from their clinic, prescribe only for a single 7 day course of medication, or register as a dispenser of controlled drugs or drugs of concern. The medical team at Fairfax Animal Hospital, has applied for a reporting waiver which allows us to only dispense seven days of a covered substance for a course of treatment. Medication needed for longer than 7 days or for those patients already on chronic covered substance will be given a written prescription to be filled at a local pharmacy.

Additional Virginia regulations affecting veterinarians with respect to the prescribing of chronic covered substances includes a mandatory re-check in within 2 weeks of starting a covered substance and mandatory physical exams at least every 6 months.

Our veterinary technicians have been in contact with our current clients regarding these new regulations. However, if you have a pet on chronic, controlled medications and have not been contacted or have more questions regarding these new guidelines and the impact to your pet’s health, please contact us at Fairfax Animal Hospital 703-820-2557.  We are happy to assist and keep your pet healthy!

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