Earlier this week, one of our contributing blogs discussed biologics – advanced medical research that creates new medications using a combination of natural materials and recombinant DNA. One specific example was Desmoteplase made from vampire bat saliva.
All around us animals contribute to our daily lives, from bats, to farm and work animals to our companion pets. When domestic working animals or pets get sick we want to do what is best for them, including making sure the drugs we give them will not harm them.
Buying veterinary medications online can be a convenient alternative to buying medications from a veterinary office. However, just like any other online resource, veterinary pharmacies should be carefully evaluated before making a purchase. Buying pet medications from an illegal Internet veterinary pharmacy can be potentially harmful to both an animal’s health and the consumer’s wallet.
Just like rogue Internet pharmacies that target humans, fraudulent and illegal veterinary pharmacies sell counterfeit, expired, mislabeled and contaminated products and operate in a manner that provides little or no recourse for settling disputes when an animal is harmed or a product is unsatisfactory.
In the US, online veterinary pharmacies must comply with federal and state laws. Federal law is administered by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Center for Veterinary Medicine and regulates the manufacture and distribution of animal medications. State laws are established by individual state boards of pharmacy and regulate the dispensing of prescription veterinary medicines.
The FDA makes the following suggestions to help consumers choose an online veterinary pharmacy:
- Ask your veterinarian
- Watch for red flags
- Always check the site for a pharmacy accreditation
- Report problems and suspicious online pharmacies
- Educate yourself about online pharmacies
One common red flag that indicates an online veterinary pharmacy is operating illegally is the sale of prescription medications without a prescription. In terminology specific to veterinary medicine, this means that a valid Veterinarian-Client-Patient relationship, or VCRP is required – in short, that the prescribing veterinarian must actually physically examine the animal at some prior point in time, rather than base a diagnosis on a mere questionnaire.
In this regard, consumers searching for a low-cost source of commonly prescribed non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and heart-worm preventative medications are particularly vulnerable. If an online veterinary pharmacy is lax about prescriptions, they may also be lax about providing genuine medications that have been properly manufactured and stored.
LegitScript can help you find an accredited and legal online veterinary pharmacy. A LegitScript verified veterinary pharmacy complies with federal and state legal requirements and also complies with the veterinary pharmacy standards established by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy. LegitScript recommends, where possible, to consider using a Vet-VIPPS accredited Internet pharmacy.
To find an accredited veterinary pharmacy, use the LegitScript menu to select Pharmacies —> Pharmacy Finder. FDA consumer tips for purchasing pet drugs online can be found in the following FDA publications: