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How Veterinary Medicine is Regulated Nancy Ehrlich, RVT Regulatory/Legislative Advocate, CaRVTA

The rules governing the practice of veterinary medicine in California are compiled in the California Veterinary Medicine Practice Act, commonly known as The Practice Act (  The book also contains laws and regulations related to veterinary medicine written by other agencies as well as the Radiation Safety GuideThe statutes, or laws written by the legislature, define the scope of practice and authorize the Veterinary Medical Board (VMB) to write regulations.  The Veterinary Medical Board s regulations clarify and make specific the laws written by the legislature. The Veterinary Medical Board, as part of the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA), has consumer protection as its primary function.  Virtually all of its activity must be carried out in public.  The VMB also has a Multidisciplinary Advisory Committee (MDC).  The regulatory process affords the public multiple opportunities for input.  Most regulations written by the VMB start at the MDC.  The VMB assigns topics to the MDC for discussion, which must be open to the public.  After the MDC has approved a proposed regulation, it is sent to the VMB for its review.  This review is also open to the public.  After publishing the proposal and taking public input, if the VMB adopts the proposal, it is then sent to a variety of agencies.  If approved by all of the other agencies, the regulation goes into effect. RVTs must be mindful that as licensed professionals, we are subject to discipline by the VMB if we violate any of the sections of the Practice Act.  We can be cited and fined, or in extreme cases, have our licenses revoked.  It is critical that RVTs understand the Practice Act and their responsibilities as licensees. As residents of California, we are fortunate to live in a state that promotes citizen participation in the regulatory process.  The various open meetings acts in this state require that all government business, with very few exceptions, must be conducted in the open, with the ability of the public to comment.  RVTs are encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity to participate in the process by subscribing to the VMB s email list (  People on the list receive updates to laws and regulations affecting veterinary medicine as well as announcements about VMB/MDC meetings. Attendees at VMB meetings may speak up on issues before the Board and, therefore, have the opportunity to affect the outcome.  Thanks to the pandemic, the VMB will now be meeting both in-person and on-line, which greatly facilitates participation. Democracy works only to the extent that citizens participate.

Veterinarian Prescriptions Are Exempt From Electronic Prescription Requirements Under AB 2789

Beginning on January 1, 2022, Assembly Bill (AB) 2789 (Wood, Chapter 438, Statutes of 2018) will require most prescriptions issued by licensed healthcare practitioners to California pharmacies to be submitted electronically to the pharmacy. Prescriptions issued by veterinarians are exempt from this requirement pursuant to Business and Professions Code section 688, subdivision (e)(5). The Veterinary Medical Board (Board) is working with the Board of Pharmacy to educate pharmacies and pharmacists on the exemption for veterinarian prescriptions. However, the Board urges the veterinary community to be patient with pharmacies and pharmacists while this new requirement is enacted. (12.17.21)

Pursuant to Assembly Bill 1535, select veterinary staff members will be required to wear name tags
when interacting with the public. The law states:

48267.3 (a) Notwithstanding any law, a veterinary technician, veterinary assistant, and a VACSP permit holder registered in this state shall wear a name tag identification in at least 18 point type in any area of the veterinary premises that is accessible to members of the public.  The name tag shall include the veterinary technician, veterinary assistant, and VASCP permit holder's name, and if applicable, the license, registration, or permit type and number issued by the board. (b)  A person subject to the requirement in subdivision (a) may remove the name tag when working with or handling animal patients. (c)  This section shall become operative on January 1, 2023. Section (c) provides a one-year implementation period to give veterinary practices time to comply with the name tag requirement.

Frequently Asked Questions
Regarding Veterinarian-Client-Patient Relationship (VCPR)

DEA wishes to remind registrants that paper prescriptions, including prescriptions created on paper and prescriptions generated by computer or a prescription application that are printed out or faxed by a practitioner, must be manually signed by the prescribing practitioner.

The Controlled Substances Act (CSA) and its implementing regulations specify the requirements for issuing and filling prescriptions for controlled substances. By statutory requirement, a valid prescription issued by a DEA-registered practitioner (or a practitioner exempt from the requirement of registration) is required for dispensing a controlled substance, unless the controlled substance is dispensed directly by a practitioner. 21 U.S.C. 829; 21 CFR 1306.11.

The CSA provides that a pharmacist may dispense schedule III and IV controlled substances pursuant to a “written or oral prescription.” 21 U.S.C. 829(b). DEA regulations further specify that a pharmacist may dispense a controlled substance listed in schedule III, IV, or V pursuant to “either a paper prescription signed by a practitioner [or] a facsimile of a signed paper prescription transmitted by the practitioner or the practitioner’s agent . . . .” 21 CFR 1306.21(a). With respect to paper prescriptions for controlled substances in any schedule, DEA regulations provide that a “computer-generated prescription that is printed out or faxed by the practitioner must be manually signed.” 21 CFR 1306.05(d). Controlled substances in schedules III, IV, and V may also be dispensed by a pharmacist pursuant to “an oral prescription made by an individual practitioner and promptly reduced to writing by the pharmacist containing all information required [for a valid prescription] in ยง 1306.05(a), except for the signature of the practitioner.” 21 CFR 1306.21(a).

In addition, DEA regulations permit a practitioner to issue, and a pharmacy to process, electronic prescriptions for controlled substances in schedules II-V provided that the requirements in part 1311 are met. 21 CFR 1306.08, 1306.05(e), and 1311.100(b),(e).
Because schedule II controlled substances have a higher potential for abuse and a greater likelihood of dependence compared to those in schedules III-V, the CSA’s controls on schedule II controlled substances are more restrictive. Therefore, the CSA and DEA regulations permit a schedule II controlled substance to be dispensed only pursuant to a written prescription signed by the practitioner, except in emergency situations when dispensing pursuant to an oral prescription is permitted. 21 U.S.C. 829(a); 21 CFR 1306.11(a),(d).1 DEA regulations further provide that a paper prescription for a controlled substance in schedule II “may be transmitted by the practitioner or the practitioner’s agent to a pharmacy via facsimile equipment, provided that the original manually signed prescription is presented to the pharmacist for review prior to the actual dispensing of the controlled substance . . . .” 21 CFR 1306.11(a). Certain limited exceptions apply to prescriptions for narcotic substances to be compounded for direct administration to a patient and to prescriptions for residents of long term care facilities and patients in certain hospice care programs. 21 C.F.R. 1306.11(e)-(g). However, in most cases, a pharmacist must receive the original, manually signed paper prescription or an electronic prescription meeting the requirements of part 1311 prior to dispensing a schedule II controlled substance.
In sum, DEA wishes to reiterate that paper prescriptions, including prescriptions created on paper and prescriptions generated by computer or a prescription application that are printed out or faxed, must be manually signed by the practitioner. This includes prescriptions faxed via computer or a prescription application which does not meet the requirements for electronic prescriptions in part 1311. Further, registrants are reminded that “the responsibility for the proper prescribing and dispensing of controlled substances is upon the prescribing practitioner, but a corresponding responsibility rests with the pharmacist who fills the prescription.” 21 CFR 1306.04(a).
We hope this information is helpful. For information regarding DEA’s Diversion Control Division, please visit

Please contact the Diversion Control Division, Policy Section at (571) 362-3260 for further questions.

AVMA - Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities APPLY HERE   Applications are due February 15, 2022.
Call for Nominations for Open Positions for 2022
  • Veterinary Technician
  • Veterinarian Representing Education of Veterinary Technicians
  • Veterinarian or Veterinary Technician – Representing Veterinary Medicine Industry

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