We’re big fans of saving money by buying prescription drugs online both for ourselves and for our pets, but since the FDA has issued a warning on the dangers of buying pet drugs online, we’d be remiss if we didn’t remind you again to be careful in your online prescription drug purchases.
However, there are basic safety risks in buying prescription drugs through an online pet pharmacy. Anyone can set up a “pharmacy” online, and it can be extremely difficult to verify that you are actually receiving your prescription drugs from a legitimate source. Some online pharmacies have been known to ship substandard drugs, drugs that are past their expiration date, drugs that are too strong/weak, counterfeit drugs or drugs that have been sourced through countries without adequate safety standards. Any of these can create serious health complications for your pet, and in extreme cases, even death.
In addition, although some online pet pharmacies advertise that they are selling prescription drugs with “no prescription required,” buying prescription medication without a prescription can be an extremely bad idea. In some cases, these online pet “pharmacies” are selling drugs that are without FDA approval. Other medications can be extremely dangerous without the supervision of a veterinarian:
A foreign or domestic pharmacy may claim that one of its veterinarians on staff will “evaluate” the pet after looking over a form filled out by the pet owner, and then prescribe the drug. “A veterinarian should physically examine an animal prior to making a diagnosis to determine the appropriate therapy,” says Hartogensis.
CVM is especially concerned that pet owners are going online to buy two types of commonly used prescription veterinary drugs—nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and heartworm preventives.
“Both drugs can be dangerous if there is no professional involvement,” says Hartogensis. “It’s not generally a concern if the owner uses a legitimate online pharmacy and mails in a prescription from their veterinarian, who is monitoring the animal. But if there is no veterinarian–client–patient relationship, it’s a dangerous practice.”
Besides asking your veterinarian for a recommendation for an online pet pharmacy, keep your pet safe by using an online pet pharmacy accredited by Vet-VIPPS, the Veterinary-Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites. Vet-VIPPS is a voluntary accreditation program of the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP). NABP gives the Vet-VIPPS seal to online pharmacies that dispense prescription animal drugs and comply with NABP’s strict criteria, including federal and state licensing and inspection requirements, protecting patient confidentiality, quality assurance, and validity of prescription orders. Look for the Vet-VIPPS seal displayed on a pharmacy’s Web site or check with NABP4 (click on “Accreditation Programs”) to find out if a pharmacy is Vet-VIPPS accredited.
If you’re going to buy prescription drugs online, it pays to be cautious and careful. The potential savings on prescription drugs can be significant, but you don’t want to do anything that would jeopardize your health or well-being.
Do you buy you’re pet’s prescription drugs online? Tell us about it!
- O, Canada? Buying Prescription Drugs from Online Foreign Pharmacies
- Elvis the Cat Series; Why Are Even Cat Prescription Drugs Cheaper in Canada?
- Do You Know Where Your Prescription Drugs Are From? Almost 1 Million Deaths a Year Attributed to Counterfeit and Substandard Drugs
- Canadian International Pharmacy Association (CIPA) Releases List of Prescription Drugs Ordered Most Often by Americans
- Elvis The Cat: Tips on Buying Pet Health Insurance