Not All Online Pharmacies are Created Equal: A guide to knowing which vendors are reputable and provide safe medications for your pet.
These days it seems there are a plethora of advertisements and television commercials for online pet pharmacies where cute cartoon animals happily retrieve their monthly tick or heartworm preventatives right from the mailman at the front door. It’s true, online pet pharmacies are a convenient way to purchase Fido’s or Fluffy’s preventatives, chronic medications, or even prescription foods without making an extra trip to the veterinarian. And with enticing claims such as cheaper prices or no prescription required, it’s easy to get lured into thinking these products are just as sound as those sold by your veterinarian. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. While there are honest and dependable online pharmacy retailers, many are not. To sort out the good from the bad, the FDA has put together a list of recommendations to help consumers become online pharmacy A.W.A.R.E. Here are some of the highlights:
A- Ask Your Veterinarian
Don’t feel embarrassed about talking with us about purchasing medication outside of the hospital. We understand you want to take care of your pet in the most financially responsible way; we will tell you our honest opinions and experiences with various retailers and websites. We also have our own online pharmacy to provide you with a trustworthy and affordable alternative. (More on LVH’s pharmacy in a bit).
W- Watch for Red Flags
If an offer seems too good to be true, then it probably is. Yes, getting an up-to-date written script from your veterinarian can sometimes be a hassle, but it is both illegal and unethical for a site to dispense medications without a formal veterinarian consent stating your pet is in good health and required to take a specific medication. (Certain preventatives such as Frontline can be sold through online distributors or big box retailers without a prescription, however we do recommend purchasing these preventatives through our hospital or online pharmacy to receive the manufacturer’s guarantee.)
Here are some other warnings that a particular online pharmacy may not have your pet’s best interest in mind:
Site does not have a licensed pharmacist to answer questions
Site does not list a physical business address or phone number
Site’s prices are dramatically lower than our hospital prices or other online pharmacies
The medication or packaging looks very different than what your pet normally takes.
Site is not based in the United States- domestic pharmacies must adhere to various local, state, and federal licensing and inspection requirements.
A- Always check site accreditation
It is important to look for the Vet-VIPPS (Veterinary Verified Internet Pharmacy Sites) Seal.
This certifies the online pharmacy meets benchmarks set by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP). In addition to the federal and state regulations, the NABP standards cover criteria such as consumer confidentiality, identity theft, and quality assurance.
R- Report Problems and Suspicious Online Pet Pharmacies
As a responsible pet owner and consumer, always do as much homework as you can before purchasing medications from an online source. Remember, these products are intended to help, not hinder, your pet’s health, well-being and longevity. Our doctors and staff are always here to answer your questions and sort through your options. We’ve also done our homework to offer a convenient and trustworthy online pharmacy specifically for our clients.
One online pharmacy that you can depend on for reliable and regulated medications is ProxyRx! We have recently teamed up with our distributor, MWI, to bring you this convenient and affordable alternative.
ProxyRx online pharmacy is only available to veterinary hospitals, so you can be sure your pet’s medication and food refills are regulated by our trusted medical staff. The products are shipped to your home directly from the manufacturer just as they would be sent to us – but it saves you a trip to our hospital! What’s more, ProxyRx offers the same rebates and discounts that you would normally receive on medications purchased at our hospital (such as our current Frontline offer and guarantee, buy 6 doses and get 2 doses free) – something many online pharmacies do not offer.