Veterinarians Not Eligible for NPI Numbers

An increasing number of pharmacies – mostly box-store outlets – have been asking veterinarians for an NPI number in order to fill prescriptions that are called in by the practitioner. However, the AVMA has recently learned from the Department of Human Services (DHHS) that veterinarians are definitively not eligible to procure National Provider Identifier numbers.

NPI numbers are associated with healthcare billing, especially with Medicare. Pharmacies prefer an NPI number because they are needed for third-party billing and because they are integral to the computer software systems that are becoming more prominent in human medicine. While many pharmacies used to accept a veterinarian’s state license number for called-in prescriptions, more pharmacies are now insisting that the veterinarian obtain and provide an NPI number.

Most likely pharmacies are unaware of the recent DHHS ruling. We have alerted the Oregon Board of Pharmacy to DHHS’s declaration and has asked the state agency to distribute this information to its licensees.

What if you have an NPI number? What should you do?

If you have procured an NPI number erroneously, DHHS advises that you deactivate it. This Web page will help you do that.

How should you respond if a pharmacy insists that you obtain an NPI number?

Explain to the pharmacy that you would gladly provide your veterinary license number but that the Department of Human Services has said that veterinarians are not eligible to obtain an NPI number. Let the pharmacy know that this information has been shared with the Oregon Board of Pharmacy. If the pharmacy persists and is unreasonable, consider contacting the Oregon Board of Pharmacy with your concerns. Their Portland telephone number is (971) 673-0001. The OVMA office is also available to help you when and where we can. Our telephone number is (800) 235-3502.

What if you are asked for your DEA number for non-controlled drug prescriptions?

The OVMA has received reports from some veterinary practices that pharmacies have also requested a DEA number for prescriptions that were not Schedule drugs. Do not provide this information under these circumstances. In fact, the DEA office in Portland advises that your DEA registration number should not be used solely as an identifier number.