Vol. 34 Iss. 23 - July 09, 2018

Chapter 20
Final Regulation

Title of Regulation: 18VAC150-20. Regulations Governing the Practice of Veterinary Medicine (adding 18VAC150-20-174).

Statutory Authority: § 54.1-2400 of the Code of Virginia.

Effective Date: August 8, 2018.

Agency Contact: Leslie L. Knachel, Executive Director, Board of Veterinary Medicine, 9960 Mayland Drive, Suite 300, Richmond, VA 23233, telephone (804) 367-4468, FAX (804) 527-4471, or email


The amendments establish requirements for the prescribing by veterinarians of controlled substances containing opioids, including tramadol and buprenorphine. The regulation provides for the management of pain, including requirements (i) for the evaluation of the patient, limitations on quantity and dosage, and recordkeeping; (ii) for chronic conditions or terminal illnesses that require prescribing an opioid for more than 14 days, an allowance for prescribing a dosage, quantity, and formulation appropriate for an animal according to species and size; and (iii) for continuation of treatment and for the content of the medical record.

Summary of Public Comments and Agency's Response: A summary of comments made by the public and the agency's response may be obtained from the promulgating agency or viewed at the office of the Registrar of Regulations.

18VAC150-20-174. Prescribing of controlled substances for pain or chronic conditions.

A. Evaluation of the patient and need for prescribing a controlled substance for pain.

1. For the purposes of this section, a controlled substance shall be a Schedules II through V drug, as set forth in the Drug Control Act (§ 54.1-3400 et seq. of the Code of Virginia), which contains an opioid, to include tramadol and buprenorphine ].

2. Nonpharmacologic and non-opioid treatment for pain shall be given consideration prior to treatment with opioids. Prior to initiating treatment with a controlled substance, as defined, the prescriber shall perform a history and physical examination appropriate to the complaint and conduct an assessment of the patient's history as part of the initial evaluation.

3. If a controlled substance is necessary for treatment ofacute ] pain, the veterinarian shall prescribe it in the lowest effective dose appropriate to the size and species of the animal for the least amount of time. Theinitial ] dose shall not exceed a 14-day supply.

B. If the prescribing is within the accepted standard of care, a veterinarian may prescribe a controlled substance containing an opioid for management ofchronic ] pain, terminal illnesses, or certain chronic conditions, such as chronic heart failure, chronic bronchitis, osteoarthritis, collapsing trachea, or related conditions.

1. For prescribing a controlled substance for management of pain after the initial 14-day prescriptionreferenced in subsection A of this section ], the patient shall be seen and evaluated for the continued need for an opioid.For the prescribing of a controlled substance for terminal illnesses or certain chronic conditions, it is not required to see and reevaluate the patient for prescribing beyond 14 days. ]

2. For any prescribing of a controlled substance beyond 14 days, the veterinarian shall develop a treatment plan for the patient, which shall include measures to be used to determine progress in treatment, further diagnostic evaluations or modalities that might be necessary, and the extent to which the pain or condition is associated withphysical ] impairment.

3. For continued prescribing of a controlled substance, the patient shall be seen and reevaluated at least every six months, and the justification for such prescribing documented in the patient record.

C. Prior to prescribing or dispensing a controlled substance, the veterinarian shall document a discussion with the owner about theknown risks and benefits of opioid therapy, the ] responsibility for the security of the drug and proper disposal of any unused drug.

D. Continuation of treatment with controlled substances shall be supported by documentation of continued benefit from the prescribing. If the patient's progress is unsatisfactory, the veterinarian shall assess the appropriateness of continued use of the current treatment plan and consider the use of other therapeutic modalities.

E. [ Prescribing of buprenorphine for outpatient administration shall only occur in accordance with the following:

1. The dosage, quantity, and formulation shall be appropriate for the patient; and

2. The prescription shall not exceed a seven-day supply. Any prescribing beyond seven days shall be consistent with an appropriate standard of care and only after a reexamination of the patient as documented in the patient record.

F. ] The medical record for prescribing controlled substances shall include signs or presentation of the pain or condition, a presumptive diagnosis for the origin of the pain or condition, an examination appropriate to the complaint, a treatment plan, and the medication prescribed to include the date, type, dosage, and quantity prescribed.

VA.R. Doc. No. R17-5103; Filed June 15, 2018, 12:30 p.m.