Request for Comments and Announcement of Workshop on Pet Medications Issues, Project No. P121201
As a veterinarian, I know that animal hospitals and clinics do not make money on pharmaceutical items. That is not the issue with online pharmacies that concern many veterinarians including myself. The issue is about the handling, storing, and shipping of these medications, some need to kept at specific temperatures and can be rendered ineffective if not adhered to. The other issue is the guarantee of these products. Lots of manufacturers do not guarantee their product when sold through online or 1-800 pet stores. Owners are not aware of this fact. Case in point, if a dog whose owner purchases heartworm medication online and despite giving the medication as directed, contracts heartworm disease, all the companies I am aware of will not cover any portion of the treatment. In comparison, those same companies will cover heartworm treatment if the prevention had been purchased from a licensed veterinarian. Another concern regarding the products is where the product is coming from, United States, vs. China vs. Australia. The packaging can be the same as the product from a licensed veterinarian, but is the product itself the same (same ingredients, efficacy, etc.) Many of these online and 1-800 pharmacies also fax prescriptions to the pets veterinarian, however, I think this should be looked into and regulated more. I am always concerned that my patients are not going to get the correct medication or the correct directions, regardless that I am filling out that form. What my hospital has done instead is that we no longer accepted faxed prescriptions. Owners have to pick up a written script from their doctor which they can then have filled at the place of their choice.