In this economy everyone is trying to save a buck or two but the old adage "you get what you pay for" may never be more appropriate than it is with pet medications. During a recent trip to our veterinarian, we found out they do not carry the brand of heartworm medication we had been purchasing from our previous vet. The receptionist informed us she could place an order through their licensed Online Pet Pharmacy. She then proceeded to tell us some very disturbing but not too surprising news.
Online Pet Pharmacies do not have to undergo any inspections, testing, licensing, etc to sell medication. They simply have to put up a website and get people to buy it. If that wasn’t bad enough she proceeded to tell us that they get contacted quite often by such pharmacies requesting to purchase their expiring or out-dated medication.
According to the FDA medication purchased through such Online Pet Pharmacies may be “counterfeit, outdated, mislabeled, incorrectly formulated, or improperly made or stored." They may not even contain the actual drug you are meaning to purchase. If they do contain the actual drug it may be the incorrect amount, contain contaminants or simply may not be as effective due to improper storage.
The FDA has come up with an acronym to help you keep your pet safe if you do decide to purchase his or her medication online.
A - Ask Your Veterinarian
Be sure to consult your veterinarian before you decide to purchase any medication online. They can help you make an informed decision about the website and proper medication.
W - Watch for Red Flags
Does the site require a valid prescription? It is illegal to sell a veterinary prescription drug without a valid prescription. Do they have a licensed pharmacist on duty? Do they list their physical address on the website? Are they located outside the US? Are they licensed?
A - Always Check for Site Accreditation
In 2009, Vet-VIPPS (Veterinary-Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites) was established by the NABP (National Association of Boards of Pharmacy) as an accrediting body for Online Pet Pharmacies to help consumers know if they are purchasing from a reputable source.
R - Report Problems and Suspicious Online Pharmacies
If your pet has any problems or adverse reactions to any medication you purchased online you should first contact the manufacturer and then report it directly to the FDA.
E - Educate Yourself about Online Pharmacies
Do your homework and research before purchasing your pet’s medication online. Their life is in your hands and it is your duty to protect them.
Things to Remember
- If you do happen to find a cheaper price for medication online, many vets will match that price if you can provide proof.
- When you purchase medication through an Online Pet Pharmacy there is no manufacturer guarantee provided like when you purchase through the vet.
- If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.