Catalog or Internet Prescription Medicine Policy
Many of you have noticed television advertisements offering fax, mail, or internet-ordered medications for your pet at a reduced cost. While we have no problem prescribing medications from reputable sources, we do have very real concerns regarding these television ads and the companies behind them. The reasons for our concerns may directly affect your pet and its well being. Because of this concern, we want you to know several things regarding these sales so you can make an informed decision:
- The major veterinary pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors do not sell medications to these advertisers and catalog houses. Instead, these promoters rely on secondary sources to obtain their inventory for sale to pet owners. These sources are either from foreign countries and have been illegally diverted, or from veterinarians who have breached their ethics and are purchasing and selling to these companies. Many of the drugs sold are regulated prescription-only medications and are not safely administered without a veterinarian’s care, pretesting, or follow-up testing to determine levels of toxicity and organ function.
- There have been incidents where heartworm medicine was requested by a client but was denied twice by the veterinarian because the dog did not a have a current negative heartworm test. The vet was concerned because of the potential adverse, even fatal, reactions when heartworm preventative is administered to an infected animal. However, the internet company ignored the vet’s instructions and sent the medicine directly to the client with another veterinarian’s name on the label, a veterinarian the owner did not even know.
Another incident involved a client receiving medication that was clearly labeled for foreign distribution. While we assume that the manufacturer is not short cutting on production of foreign prescription drugs, we also know that other countries have different standards for production, manufacturing and clearance for distribution. Only your imagination limits the possibility of potential problems that might arise from this type of illegal distribution.
Our clinic too has had problems dealing with these companies as well. One incident involved the internet company requesting the wrong size heartworm medication be sent to one of our clients. Although not a fatal error, this dog would not have been protected against heartworm disease. We have also had clients sent prescription medicine without any prescription being submitted. These are just a few examples of problems incurred when using these companies.
- Discount houses have been cited by the FDA and State Boards of Pharmacy for violating prescription procedures. Pet Med Express in particular was recently fined over $100,000 by the FDA and Florida Department of Health. This particular discount house has been sued by the Texas Pharmacy Board and was put on probation by the Missouri Pharmacy Board.
- We have also had problems with these discount companies not passing on the appropriate rebates and specials that accompany some of these medications. In one instance, it was cheaper to purchase the medicine directly from us than to order it through the internet because the rebate had not been offered to the client.
- Shipping charges, delays, mis-shipments and damaged products are several of the reasons that many clients feel that the hassles of dealing with the catalog houses are not worth the savings.
- Most guarantees that manufacturers make regarding their products are null and void if their products are purchased through non-approved channels.
- We maintain an in-house pharmacy for our client’s convenience as well as to assure that products are obtained from reputable sources with long expiration dates. Because we plan our purchases based on the needs of the practice’s entire client base, we negotiate to obtain the best possible pricing that can be passed on to our clients. Understand that the sales of many of our retail products help subsidize the cost of other services at the hospital, namely many emergency and rarely used drugs.
- Our products come with a person to help you utilize them effectively and safely. Catalog and internet sources of medication care only about the sale and cannot advise an owner on the medications proper use.
Consequently, our hospital has adopted the following policy out of concern for your pet’s safety:
- We will not authorize any prescription to any outside company over the phone or through faxes or email.
- If you choose to purchase your products at catalog houses or outside sources, we will gladly write prescriptions in lieu of selling them here. You must pick up this prescription in person. TO AVOID ANY POTENTIAL DOCTOR-PATIENT CONFIDENTIALITY ISSUES WE WILL NOT COMMUNICATE WITH ANY DISCOUNT HOUSE IN ANY FORM OR FASHION. It is your responsibility to ensure that the prescription is sent, filled, labeled, shipped and used correctly. We will not be involved in any product failure for products purchased through these discount houses.
We understand and empathize with the desire to find products cheaper. Our purpose is to continue providing reliable sources for medications we believe serve your pet’s health needs as safely, efficaciously and conveniently as possible. As always, we would be glad to answer any questions you may have.