The FDA regulates the manufacture and distribution of human and animal drugs to provide safe medication for you and your pet. State pharmacy boards help regulate the dispensing of human and animal prescription medications. Dr. Anna Coffin wants to make you aware of the dangers of online pet pharmacies.
It is important to understand that some online pet pharmacies sell counterfeit pet products, sell expired medication or food, and dispense prescription medication without a prescription from your veterinarian. Any of these unethical practices are dangerous for your pet. The FDA is so concerned about this issue that they have created BeSafeRx a national campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of buying prescription medicines from fake online pharmacies.
Be A.W.A.R.E. of online pet pharmacies:
A: Ask your veterinarian what site they trust
W: Watch for red flags
A: Always check for site accreditation
R: Report problems and suspicious pharmacies to the FDA, NABP or the local state pharmacy board.
E: Educate yourself about online pet pharmacies
Did you know?
- Most veterinary drug manufacturers limit the sale of their products to licensed veterinarians. Heartworm and flea and tick preventatives are typically acquired from online pet pharmacies illegally.
- Drug manufacturers only guarantee products purchased directly from a veterinarian. For example, heartworm prevention given every 30 days carries a guarantee that if properly used will prevent heartworm and parasite infection. If your pet is diagnosed with one of these parasites and you purchased the product from your veterinarian, your veterinarian will treat your pet at no cost to you. However, when purchased from an online pet pharmacy, you must pay for treatment yourself.
- Counterfeit medications are a common issue for both human and pet online pharmacies.
- Certain medications must be shipped and stored at proper temperatures. Inappropriate handling, storage, and shipping could render your pet’s medication ineffective.
- Expiration dates may be short-dated and cannot be exchanged. For example, if you purchase a six-month supply of heartworm prevention it could expire in three months.
What to look for when buying online:
- Is the pharmacy licensed by the state you live in? You don’t have much recourse from problems caused by unlicensed, out-of-state companies.
- If the online pharmacy does not require a prescription from your veterinarian before filling the prescription, this should be a huge red flag that something is wrong.
- Look for the Vet-VIPPS seal on the pharmacy website or a pharmacy website ending in “.pharmacy.” As of August of 2017, the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy started a new verified website program. Once the online pharmacy meets the Board’s strict standards for enrollment, they are given the “.pharmacy” web address to help identify a safe online pharmacy.
- Here is more information from the FDA about signs of a rogue online pharmacy.
Did you know that all human pharmacies, like CVS, Walgreen and Walmart have regular inspections on the medications they stock to ensure that there are no expired drugs on their shelves, that they are filling legitimate prescriptions, and following all the state board regulations? Online pet pharmacies don’t have to follow these same regulations.
We want to help you protect your pet and keep them happy and healthy, but this is hard to do when purchasing medications from online pet pharmacies. Therefore, out of concern for your pet many veterinarians, including those at Guthrie Pet Hospital, have decided to endorse our own online pet pharmacy. These pharmacies are set up specifically for veterinary clinics, and many are powered by the pharmaceutical distributors from which we purchase our in-house medications.
Stop by during the month of March for these great specials. Buy three doses of Nexgard and receive one free dose and a dog toy or buy six doses of Nexgard and receive two free doses and a dog toy!