Saturday, March 23, 2013

Controlled Substances Act Newly Applied to Large Animal Vets

The D.E.A. wants Y.O.U. to have to haul your cow or horse to your vet, or at least that's my read on this, and that of course would be a real burden to the cattle raiser, if not impossible in many situations.  Of course, I could just be paranoid - and in no way is this a sly first move toward a long range goal of creating another headache or stumbling block for the beef growers and beef eaters in the USA in the interests of curtailing both the growing of and consumption of that beef.

There appears to have been a 2012 reinterpretation of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).  Or maybe not a reinterpretation, but a reinvention of how to interpret it?  Some government employee with outstanding ability to read between the lines and in to the psyche of the original crafters of the CSA in 1970?  Or some one or group who got a big high five from upstairs for finding yet another way to cause difficulty for livestock producers in the United States?

It seems that back in 2012 the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) stepped in to regulate the movement of certain substances used in the normal course of business for a large animal veterinarian. In the state of California vets were notified of the 'new rules' by June of last year.  From everything I've read so far, it is only California vets that received DEA notice of "illegal" acts, which strikes me as odd, maybe it was sequester budget savings in advance?  Like if they put the squeeze to CA, the rest of the country's vets will get the word, save a little paper or something?  Couldn't find a pigeon perhaps?

  •  "The act apparently has not been applied to mobile veterinary practices until recently, but the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) appears to be changing its practice this year, as mobile veterinarians in California report that they have received notices that their activities are illegal." June 2012, DogZombieBlog

The DEA's target is the mobile vet, the one that comes to your farm or ranch to vaccinate your calves, take a look at a sickly cow or horse, palpate your cows, etc. . . It is certainly not a new concept, and I've no doubt there were lots more vets in 1970 who were "mobile" caregivers than there are now.  There are fewer and fewer large animal vets coming out of our universities now than ever before; yet, now, the DEA suddenly decides they've been overlooking a dangerous avenue of drugs they are compelled to leash with greater regulations in the year 2012?  What a puzzle.

From the March 14, 2013 issue of The Weekly Livestock Reporter we learn that:

  • "Dr. Thomas W. Graham of Davis, CA, told the American Veterinary Medical Association he had been contacted by the state's DEA and had stopped carrying pentobarbital, diazepam, xylazine and butorphanol in his vehicle because he was told it was illegal.  Graham is a large animal vet . . . He told the AVMA in a report that he is using a handgun for euthanasia until he is assured he can carry what he needs into the field to euthanize an animal."    "Graham is walking a fine line between following a law that is murky at best, and treating his patients as humanely and professionally as possible.  As word of the DEA notices spread to other states, outrage has continued to grow about the rule."

U.S. Representative Kurt Schrader, D-Oregon, is a veterinarian, and one of seventeen members of Congress who wrote to the DEA in October 2012 regarding this power grab by the DEA and its impact on vets.  There has not been a response in writing from anyone in the U.S. Government.  I suppose those seventeen members of Congress elected by the people simply don't have the clout to warrant a timely response from the DEA.

Schrader said, "Not a single member of Congress intended the CSA to be used as a means of restricting the practice of mobile vets.  The DEA has no clue what it means to drive the countryside providing veterinary care and protecting our food supply." Schrader added that "the DEA's interpretation of the CSA gives him pause as to how much leeway agencies like this should have.  He says legislation is being drafted to correct the problem, and within a month or so that legislation should be introduced."

In the meantime, the DEA says "that it is not legal for veterinarians to use controlled substances outside of their registered locations."  So . . . euthanizing with pentobarbital on your horse's home turf becomes out of the question, sedating an injured cow with diazepam or xylazine on farm to safely treat the cow (safer for the cow and the vet) is out of the question, and if your horse is having a severe colic, or has a severe injury of any sort that would call for a good pain reliever, I suppose you'll have to somehow get him loaded in to the trailer for an office call to get some butorphanol . . . 

Hmmm . . . I think I'll go grab a couple of aspirin for this headache while I still can.