Beginning July 1, new drug dispensing regulations will take effect in Virginia. These regulations may affect the way pet owners obtain certain medications, including opioid pain control medications, gabapentin, certain anti-seizure medications, and other “covered substances.” The new regulations require veterinarians to either limit themselves to dispensing seven days or less of the covered medications or to participate in Virginia’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PMP).

                The PMP is a system designed to reduce prescription drug abuse. Licensed pharmacies already use the system. Before dispensing a covered medication, the pharmacist must search a database to assess the person’s medication history from all pharmacies using the database. This system requires time, training, expense, and access to personal medical information that makes many veterinarians uncomfortable. As a result, most veterinarians are likely to opt for dispensing short-term supplies of covered medications and then write prescriptions for owners to get longer-term supplies filled through a licensed pharmacy.

                It is important for pet owners to give their veterinarians advanced notice when refills of these medications are required. If your veterinarian has opted-out of the PMP program, (s)he will only be able to dispense a total of seven days of medication to your pet. You will not be able to refill that prescription at the veterinarian’s office – even just for another seven days. Some of these medications actually require a written prescription to be physically handed to the pharmacy, so your veterinarian may not be able to fax or call in a prescription for you.

                If you are concerned about your pet’s medication being on the covered list, please contact your veterinarian this week. That will give both of you time to develop a refill plan before the July 1 deadline.