Veterinary service for an illness or injury can put a strain on many owners’ budgets, and when the treatment also involves long-term medication the total can be staggering. Every horse owner realizes illness and injury are facts of life, and rational people certainly expect to pay for professional services, but drug costs are another matter. Are there ways to save money’
Your most convenient source for purchasing drugs is your vet, since human pharmacies do not carry most of the drugs your veterinarian may prescribe for your horse. And, of course, your vet deserves to place a fair markup on the drug cost to cover handling and make a small profit. Most vets are fair in their pricing, but remember that you can ask for a prescription if you want and have it filled by an animal pharmacy.
If you choose not to buy from your veterinarian, after an examination he or she should give you a prescription with no additional fee for writing it. Several companies can fill your prescription for brand-name veterinary drugs.
You may even find a workable solution to purchase the first dose from your veterinarian and get a prescription for the refills. However, we’ve heard stories about vets or office personnel who get angry at people who want to buy medications elsewhere, claiming ”they need to eat, too,” even flat-out refusing to write a prescription and telling clients they’ll no longer care for their animals if they don’t buy their drugs from the vet. Can a veterinarian do this legally’ No.
The veterinarian is obligated to provide the care of your animal once he accepts the responsibility for its care. He can’t insist you buy medications only from him. Of course, your options for recourse may be limited. Telling the vet you know this isn’t legal may help, although you definitely risk ill will. Your best bet is to find another veterinarian.
Most animal pharmacies are accessible through the Internet and catalogs, so it’s unlikely they’ll be fast enough for emergency situations. That said, if your horse is going to be on an expensive drug for a considerable length of time, it might be worth your time to do some cost-shopping and comparisons.
Check catalogs that carry vaccines and the like. You may find a section in the catalog listing medications available ”by prescription only,” and you can call for availability of your drug. Always make sure the pharmacy is licensed and properly staffed, especially if you request generics or compounded drugs.