Last updated on April 8, 2015
Fake prescriptions and ordering medicines for your dog online: Should you or shouldn’t you? According to the 2013-2014 APPA National Pet Owners Survey, 68 percent of U.S. households own a pet, which equates to 82.5 million homes. In 2013, $55.72 billion was spent on our pets in the United States. In 2014, that number exceeded $58 billion.
Of that over $58 billion, over $22 billion was on food and another nearly $14 billion was on supplies and over-the-counter medicines. Note that is BILLION. That’s a lot of money. We love our pets. Online scammers rely on that love of pets when they target your pocketbook.
From selling counterfeit pet medications to dispensing expired and unapproved drugs, the buyer must beware to ensure the well being of pets. Here’s what to know before you go….online to purchase medications for your pets:
Fake Prescription Packaging: Fake Prescriptions
The Reality: SiteJabber, the NSF-funded consumer protection service, reports that there are some online pet pharmacies that do not use original packaging of prescription drugs. As a result, your dog’s health could be at stake.
The Reaction: Be careful when purchasing pet medications online. Since pet meds can be a large expense, shopping online with a reputable pharmacy can save money in many cases. You can check sites like LegitScript.com to see if they are a legitimate business and see what other pet owners are saying about a given company on SiteJabber.com.
If Sounds Too Good to Be True: It Probably Is
Discount pet drugs—no prescription required: These six words are a red flag to pet parents. Though there are legitimate websites selling pet medications via reputable pharmacies, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has discovered companies that sell unapproved pet drugs and counterfeit pet products, make fraudulent claims, dispense prescription drugs without requiring a prescription, and sell expired drugs.
Never make a guess as to what is best for your dog’s well being: Nothing substitutes a veterinarian putting his hands on your dog for an in-person examination and any testing. Unscrupulous online pharmacies prey on pet parents who think they are doing the right thing. Two of the most commonly prescribed pet medications: nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and heartworm preventives can be dangerous without professional veterinary involvement.
If you must purchase a prescription online, ensure the website is a Veterinary-Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites (VIPPS), which is a voluntary accreditation program of the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP). The FDA says that pet parents should l”ook for the Vet-VIPPS seal displayed on a pharmacy’s Web site or check with NABP (click on “Accreditation Programs”) to find out if a pharmacy is Vet-VIPPS accredited. Because this is a new program”, begun in 2009, a small number of pharmacies are currently Vet-VIPPS accredited.
VIPPS pharmacy sites display the VIPPS Seal on their websites.
Talk to Your Pet’s Veterinarian
Most veterinarians work with state-licensed Internet pharmacy services that support the veterinarian-client-patient relationship. As your vet if he or she uses an Internet pharmacy service they would be willing to let you order from directly.
Talk to the Online Pharmacist
A licensed pharmacist should always be available to speak with you about the drugs you’re purchasing for your dog. Red flag if there is none.
Cheap Doesn’t Mean Better
When an online pharmacy’s pricing is severely undercut compared to the veterinarian prices, this is reason for concern and a definite red flag. Federal law that bans the sale of prescription drugs without a prescription on pet medications in the same way it does with human medications.
Legitimate online pet pharmacies require the pet parent to have a prescription from a veterinarian prior to filling any medication order.
Ask if the online pharmacies employs certified, active pharmacists and ask the names.
Check the Better Business Bureau and other reputable websites to determine if any complaints have been filed and to investigate a company’s reputation.
Do not buy medications overseas, and definitely not without a prescription. Federal and state legislation applies to pharmacies within the US and they are bound by those terms.
Ask if the pharmacist(s) are licensed by that state’s Board of Pharmacy: They should be.
Check the medication upon arrival. Does it look like your dog’s medication? Is anything different about it? Pay close attention to details. Never second guess a medication.
The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy has 23 websites listed as of this writing that are VIPPS accredited .
And now the white elephant in the cyber-room: Does a veterinarian have to give a client a written prescription to have the medication filled elsewhere?
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), “As a veterinarian, when you determine that a medication is needed for a patient, you can discuss with your client the benefits of having the drug dispensed directly from your clinic. If your client still wants the prescription filled elsewhere, you should comply with their wish and provide a written prescription. For more information about this, see Section III of the AVMA’s Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics.
Make sure you are aware of your state’s rules and regulations regarding prescriptions. Some states require veterinarians to write prescriptions for clients to have filled elsewhere if requested by the client, while some are less strict about prescriptions; in addition, specific guidance on ways the prescription can legally be filed (via a written prescription, telephone or fax) might be offered by your state.”
Medicine Vs. Mom
Twice a month, we offer our readers a dog mom vs. vet tech perspective on a hot topic, and this installment is no different. Hop over to the My Kid Has Paws blog where Rachel Sheppard provides her take on buying medications online.
Did you ever purchase prescription or non-prescription medications online? Did you have a good or a bad experience? Let us know in the comments below.