There seems to be no limit to what an owner will do to pamper their beloved hooved pets.? But as the slumping economy continues to pester? or let’s face it? plague the nation, horse owners are searching for every way possible to save a dollar.? Many owners feeling the pinch have opted to fill prescriptions through Internet pharmacies.? While these pharmacies seem promising, they may not be all that they claim to be.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cautions pet ownersabout Internet pharmacies.? According to an FDA Consumer Health Information publication, ?The FDA has found companies that sell unapproved pet drugs and counterfeit pet products, make fraudulent claims, dispense prescription drugs without requiring a prescription, and sell expired drugs.?
From the veterinarian?s perspective, Internet pharmacies present a tremendous amount of danger and liability.? it’s virtually impossible to know where the drugs are coming from if they’re shipped to you from an Internet pharmacy.
In addition, because regulations are loose surrounding Internet pharmacies, the sanitation, temperature, and humidity control around medications are unknown.? This all equals danger for your animal and liability for the veterinarian as their license can be in jeopardy if they are caught up with an unscrupulous pharmacy? even if it is unknowingly.
Veterinarians must protect their licenses. When they write a prescription that goes to an Internet pharmacy, they’re entrusting complete strangers with their license number. THere’s no way of tracking whether or not the pharmacy will turn around and use the number to authorize prescriptions to patients that the veterinarian has never even seen before.? This unlawful business practice has been documented on numerous occasions.? When a vet dispenses medications directly to a client, it eliminates this threat.
In addition, directly dispensing medications to clients means the veterinarian knows they’re the correct drug, the correct dose, have the correct instructions, and aren?t expired or contaminated. When veterinarians write a prescription and the client sends it off to ?who knows where,? they have no way of knowing if the medications shipped to clients are the right ones.
Several Internet pharmacies operate illegally because, even though they are based and licensed in one state, they ship medications to the entire country and sometimes internationally.? However, the law states that a pharmacy must be licensed in each state where it does business.? No license in a state means no regulatory oversight.? Without it, consumers who are harmed by Internet pharmacies (usually due to the pharmacy shipping the wrong medication or strength) have no method of recourse because there is no state board overseeing the pharmacy to investigate a complaint.? Even if the state board in a given state were to investigate the case, they have no authority over a pharmacy located in another state.
Finally, Internet pharmacies tout a competitive pricing edge over many veterinarians, not because they actually charge less for the medications, but because they do not charge sales tax. This is illegal in many states, and it gives these companies an unfair business advantage over upstanding and legitimate local businesses that are contributing to your local economy.
Please keep in mind that veterinarians can’t prescribe medications without examining your horse. We can refill a prescription we gave you based on a previous exam, but even then we must re-examine the horse periodically. that’s the law.
Also, we are not trying to upset you when we refuse to authorize a prescription from an Internet pharmacy. Remember that tHere’s no safety net for us or your horses when we do business with pharmacies we don’t know.
Article by Contributing Veterinary Editor Grant Miller, DVM.