Buying Pet Medications Online, Risky or Convenient?

Should I buy pet medication online?

There is hardly a day that goes by that I don’t get a request to sign an online prescription. I very reluctantly authorize them, because I believe through experience, many online sources are fraudulent. There for my opinion is they are riskier versus convenient.

I have had several cases at my practice where online purchases have caused problems. One client bought Heartworm preventative that was later found to be bogus; their pet sadly developed heartworm disease. Another client ordered flea and tick medication at an unbelievable price, but when it arrived the entire package was in Chinese. These counterfeiters have become very skilled at imitating packaging. It is hard to know the difference even if you study the packaging carefully. The only clue you may have is the unbelievable price. Scary!

I do not recommend buying pet prescription drugs online at this time. Or at least until there is better control of the counterfeit drugs. Just last month the Feds busted a 2.5 million fake pet drug operation in Houston, Texas. This group had been distributing counterfeit drugs to pets for 15 years. Yes, 15 years!!  I just don’t trust the online drug system yet.

Also, most veterinarians have legitimate in-house pharmacies which stock fairly price guaranteed medication.

The FDA regulates online pet’s medications, right?

According to the FDA, it is buyer beware, “These illegal online pharmacies may sell medicines that are counterfeit, outdated, mislabeled, stored incorrectly or improperly formulated. The drugs may not contain the actual drug or may contain incorrect amounts of the drug. Some may not work as well if the product is old (expired) or was stored in conditions that were too hot, cold, or humid. Others may not have the proper directions for use.”

But I need to order online what should I do?

If you must order online for some reason, you can order through our online pharmacy or your veterinarian’s pharmacy.  If you absolutely have to order online here are the red flags the FDA says to watch for:

    The pharmacy doesn’t require a veterinarian’s prescription for a prescription medicine.

    The pharmacy has no licensed pharmacist available to answer questions.

    The pharmacy’s website does not list its physical business address, phone number, or other contact information.

    The pharmacy is not based in the United States.

    The pharmacy is not licensed by the State Board of Pharmacy where the business is based.

    The pharmacy’s website does not protect your personal information.

    The pharmacy’s prices are dramatically lower than your veterinarian’s or other online    

      pharmacies’ prices.

    The pharmacy ships you medicines that you didn’t order or medicines that look very different from what your pet normally takes.

The FDA further recommends you are A.W.A.R.E.

A-Ask, your veterinarian

W-Watch for red flags

A-Always check for pharmacy accreditation

R-Report problems and suspicious online pet pharmacies

E-Educate yourself about online pet pharmacies

Gary Beall DVM

Gary “Chip” Beall, Senior Veterinary Student at OSU

Springboro Veterinary Hospital

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