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FDA Partially Suspends VCPR Enforcement for Veterinary Telemedicine During Coronavirus Pandemic

FDA Partially Suspends VCPR Enforcement for Veterinary Telemedicine During Coronavirus Pandemic
The FDA took steps toward encouraging the use of veterinary telemedicine during the coronavirus pandemic. michaeljung/shutterstock.com

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration took steps to encourage veterinary telemedicine during the new coronavirus pandemic, announcing on March 24, 2020, that it would temporarily suspend enforcement of some federal veterinarian-client-patient relationship (VCPR) requirements.

“Specifically, FDA generally intends not to enforce the animal examination and premises visit VCPR requirements relevant to FDA regulations governing Extralabel Drug Use in Animals (21 CFR part 530) and Veterinary Feed Directive Drugs (21 CFR 558.6),” the FDA stated in a guidance document.

The FDA notes that veterinarians still need to consider state VCPR requirements that may exist in their practice location.

Typically, the FDA requires that veterinarians establish a relationship with the patient and human client before performing telemedicine services. In order to do so, general FDA requirements mandate a physical examination of the patient and/or “timely visits to the location where the animal is kept.”

This policy has been under examination during the COVID-19 pandemic due to recommendations of social distancing and shelter-in-place mandates in many communities across the country.

“The FDA recognizes the vital role veterinarians play in protecting public health. This pandemic has had impacts on many of our everyday lives and professions, and during this time, we need to provide veterinarians with the latitude to expand the use of telemedicine in the care of animals, not only pets but also the animals that produce our food,” said FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn, M.D. in a news release. “The FDA is providing flexibility that will help veterinarians maintain the health of animals during the pandemic, while allowing for the social distancing that is so important in limiting the further spread of coronavirus disease across the country and the world.”

The AVMA recognized the announcement and provides telemedicine resources on its website.

The FDA noted that it will revisit this policy periodically. Check back for updates as this story develops.