For several years online pet pharmacies such as Pet Med and PetCare RX have been actively marketing their products. The promise of saving money, direct shipping, less hassle are all too inviting for the pet owner to ignore. But is that the whole story? Is it safe to purchase from these online pharmacies? Are there legal or ethical issues? Are these medications really the exact same products that you get from your vet? These are questions that often have somewhat confusing answers. But for us, that is my veterinary colleagues and associates the biggest question is: “Are there risks regarding efficacy and safety of these products?”
Veterinarians provide pet and animal care as part of a business. Any negative statement made by a veterinarian regarding online pet pharmacies is seen as trying to prevent competition and to improve his or her own bottom line. But there is much more than that at stake. Is purchasing pet medication on line in the best interest of the patient? Is the medication the same in every way as what you bring home from your local animal hospital or could it be somewhat tainted? Are the online pharmacies adhering to all the legal and ethical requirements for the states in which they are doing business?
The internet pet pharmacies have been been around for a while now but the start was rocky to say the least. A quick review of this link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PetMeds specifically the controversy section reveals lawsuits brought in Texas, Ohio, Florida and by company shareholders against Pet Meds. But the real concern comes from the actual sourcing of medications sold on line. While they (the pharmacies) will assert that these medications are acquired directly from the manufacturers such as Meriel (Heartguard and Frontline) and Merck (Triheart) contend that they do not sell directly to online pharmacies and therefore any medications sold on the internet arrive without their company guarantee.
So what is the reality of all of this and does it matter in the case of your own pet? If you are like most pet owners, an opportunity to save a few dollars here and there as long as it doesn’t compromise the well being of your companion is well appreciated. Does that translate to purchasing certain products on line? It certainly may. In the next post we’ll look at the instances in which it is of less risk to purchase from the internet sources and when to stick with your local vet.