Concerns Regarding The Source Of Your Pet's Medication
Being part of the veterinary community for many years, we have recently come face to face with the growing number of internet pharmacies offering medical supplies, prescription medications and flea control products for pets. Occasionally a client of ours will ask if we will write a prescription for a medication so that he/she may get it through a catalog, television advertisement, or the Internet. Sometimes we get faxes from internet pharmacies asking for our permission to dispense prescription medications (e.g., flea and heartworm preventive), as well as non-prescription flea products. Although we will write prescriptions for our clients, we have serious concerns about filling such requests and we would like to explain why we usually recommend against getting medication through these channels.
Many of the major veterinary pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors do not sell or condone selling their products directly to these outlets for resale to the public. They sell them only to veterinarians who have a valid license to practice veterinary medicine and who have a doctor/client/patient relationship with the person ordering the medications. This means that your pet must be examined by your veterinarian within the last year (in order to be certain that the medications will be safe and effective for your pet). Therefore it becomes a question of quality control. Where are the catalog and internet pharmacies getting these drugs if not directly from the drug companies or distributors? How have they been handled, transported and stored? If they are not getting the drugs directly from the manufacturers, they may be obtaining them unethically, if not illegally. Some internet pharmacies have had multiple lawsuits against them for unethical and/or illegal sale of products. We have received letters from several of the manufacturers (such as Novartis who makes Sentinel, Interceptor and Program, and Bayer who makes Advantage and Pfizer who makes Rimadyl) telling us that they will only stand behind their products when they are sold or prescribed by a licensed, practicing veterinarian.
In other words, any product guarantee or assistance with adverse drug reactions may not be honored if the manufacturers' products are purchased through a non-authorized source, such as internet pharmacies, groomers, and pet stores. In addition, we are concerned with the quality of the medication that is being sold. We, as well as many of our colleagues, have seen products obtained here in the United States that are labeled for sale in foreign countries, with directions written in languages other than English. Recently, counterfeit and non-E.P.A. approved Advantage and Frontline were found in multiple San Diego pet stores.
We believe that your pet deserves a Doctor/Patient relationship when dispensing most medications so there is never a question of quality or safety. All medications that you purchase from Governor Animal Clinic come with assurances from the drug manufacturers as well as us, that the products are legally acquired and ethically prescribed. More importantly, if untoward reactions do occur, the manufacturer and veterinarian are ready to help. Most veterinarians stand behind the medications they sell and if side effects or reactions do occur they will evaluate and treat your pet, often with the help of the drug company, at minimal or no charge.
Because your veterinarian cares about you and the quality of the products administered to your pet, we hope that you would be diligent in choosing where you purchase your pet's medications. Your veterinarian has your pet's welfare foremost in mind and only sells products that have been obtained, handled, shipped and stored properly. Finally, many of the products sold by internet and catalog pharmacies can actually be more expensive than the same products obtained from your veterinarian. Even when the products are less expensive, there are often shipping and handling fees.
Purchasing Pet Drugs Online: Buyer Beware