BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                                                                  AB 1839
                                                                  Page  1

          Date of Hearing:   March 27, 2012

                                 Mary Hayashi, Chair
                   AB 1839 (Ma) - As Introduced:  February 22, 2012
          SUBJECT  :   Veterinary medicine: veterinary assistants.

           SUMMARY  :   Authorizes veterinary assistants to administer a 
          controlled substance if specified requirements are satisfied, 
          including completion of a fingerprinting background check and 
          authorizes the Veterinary Medical Board (VMB) to limit access to 
          specified dangerous drugs, as defined.  Specifically,  this bill  :

          1)Limits access to controlled substances by veterinary 
            assistants who have completed a state and federal 
            fingerprinting background check and who do not have any drug 
            or alcohol related felony convictions.

          2)Requires the employer to retain the results of the background 
            check in his or her personnel records and make them available 
            to the VMB and the Department of Justice, upon request.

          3)Authorizes the VMB to restrict access by veterinary assistants 
            to any drug identified as a dangerous drug in consultation 
            with the Board of Pharmacy (BOP), and that has an established 
            pattern of being diverted.

          4)Deletes the January 1, 2013, sunset for provisions authorizing 
            registered veterinary technicians (RVT) and unregistered 
            assistant (UA) to administer controlled substances under 
            specified circumstances, thereby extending these provisions 

          5)Updates references to "UAs" with "veterinary assistant."

           EXISTING LAW  :

          1)Provides for the licensure and registration of veterinarians 
            and RVTs and the regulation of the practice of veterinary 
            medicine by the VMB under the Veterinary Medicine Practice Act 

          2)Authorizes UAs to carry out specified acts in the veterinary 


                                                                  AB 1839
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            care and treatment of animals, and authorizes VMB to regulate 
            the veterinary care activities of unregistered assistants.

          3)Authorizes, until January 1, 2013, an RVT and a UA to 
            administer controlled substances, except for the induction of 
            anesthesia, under specified circumstances.

           FISCAL EFFECT  :   Unknown

           COMMENTS  :  

          Purpose of this bill  .  According to the author, "For many years, 
          RVTs and UAs who assist veterinarians in practice, have been 
          allowed to administer drugs under indirect supervision of a 
          veterinarian, by the veterinarian's order, control, and full 
          professional responsibility.  However, in 2007, VMB's legal 
          counsel questioned the language in existing law regarding who 
          can administer drugs to animals in a veterinary practice 
          setting.  The California Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) 
          disagreed with the VMB's interpretation of the law and 
          subsequently sought a Legislative Counsel (LC) opinion, 
          requested by then Assemblyman Greg Aghazarian.  The LC opinion 
          confirmed CVMA's position and, it further validated current 
          practice as it pertains to federal drug laws.

          "Ultimately, the VMB determined that temporary regulations, 
          designed to rectify the confusion in the law, could only go so 
          far, and that a statutory change would be necessary.  SB 969 
          ?was signed into law, but contained a sunset provision."

           Background  .  This bill is co-sponsored by CVMA, VMB, and the 
          California Registered Veterinary Technician Association (CRVTA).

          In 2007, the VMB attorney interpreted a section of law 
          pertaining to who can administer controlled substances in a 
          veterinary office under the indirect supervision of a 
          veterinarian.  The interpretation was inconsistent with 
          application of this law in veterinary practices, and as such an 
          LC opinion was sought for clarification.  The LC opinion found 
          that the current practice was appropriate, and in compliance 
          with the federal Controlled Substances Act, but recommended 
          legislative clarification.  LC stated, "Thus, it is our opinion, 
          that an amendment to California law authorizing those persons to 
          administer controlled substances under the indirect supervision 
          of a licensed veterinarian would not violate the federal 


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          Controlled Substances Act, provided that the supervising 
          licensed veterinarian is properly registered."   In response, 
          CVMA and VMB sponsored SB 969 (Aanestad) of 2007, which provided 
          that RVTs and UAs could administer drugs under the indirect 
          supervision of a licensed veterinarian until January 1, 2012.  
          This sunset date was extended by one year, under SB 943 
          (Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee).  

          This bill deletes the sunset provision, making permanent the 
          authority for RVTs and UA's to administer controlled substances 
          under specified circumstance; requires all UA staff with access 
          to controlled substances to be fingerprinted; authorizes VMB to 
          determine if access to a specified drug should be restricted if 
          VMB determines that the drug is being diverted to an extent 
          documented by cases investigated by the VMB; and, updates the 
          term "UA" to "veterinary assistant."
           Support  .  The CRVTA, a co-sponsor of this bill, writes in 
          support, "The previous, temporary bills that concerned the 
          administration of controlled substances by unlicensed veterinary 
          personnel, did not require fingerprinting or background checking 
          of these individuals.  We feel very strongly that by adding this 
          requirement, we are protecting our patients and the public from 
          potential harm.

          "This bill also returns the ability of the VMB to regulate the 
          delegation of the administration of drugs that have been 
          determined to have a pattern of being diverted.  We believe this 
          is a very important feature, since the previous legislation did 
          not allow the VMB to restrict the administration of any drugs, 
          even those that were known to be diverted.

          "We also support the change in title from 'UA' to 'veterinary 
          assistant'.  This trend exists on a national level precisely 
          because no one actually used the title 'UA', which lead to all 
          veterinary staff being called technicians.  Now that we have 
          title protection for the term RVT, we feel that it is in the 
          interest of the public that they be aware of the distinction 
          between licensed technicians and unlicensed veterinary 

           Previous legislation  .  SB 969 (Aanestad), Chapter 83, Statutes 
          of 2007, provided that RVTs and UAs can administer drugs under 
          the indirect supervision of a licensed veterinarian.  


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          SB 943 (Business, Professions and Economic Development 
          Committee), Chapter 350, Statutes of 2011, extended the sunset 
          date authorizing RVTs and UAs to administer drugs under the 
          indirect supervision of a licensed veterinarian to January 1, 

          SB 175 (Kuehl), Chapter 250, Statutes of 2003, modified the 
          definition of "dangerous drug" or "dangerous device" to clarify 
          that BOP has the authority to regulate all dangerous 
          prescription drugs or devices regardless of whether or not they 
          are for human or animal treatment.  Authorized the VMB in 
          conjunction with BOP to enforce the existing statutes of the 
          Pharmacy Law regarding prescribing and dispensing of dangerous 
          drugs or devices.


          California Registered Veterinary Technicians Association 
          California Veterinary Medical Association (co-sponsor) 
          California Veterinary Medical Board (co-sponsor) 

          None on file.
          Analysis Prepared by  :    Rebecca May / B.,P. & C.P. / (916)