Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Pet Prescriptions - You Have Options

 Veterinary clinic clients always have the option of having a prescription filled at an internet pharmacy or even at a human pharmacy like CVS or Walgreens.  In most states Veterinarians are required by law to provide you with a written prescription if you ask for one.  In some cases you may be able to save significant money by filling your prescriptions outside your Veterinarian's office, but there are some things you should be aware of when attempting to do so.

Human Pharmacies

All human pharmacies like Walgreens, Target and Walmart will accept prescriptions written by Veterinarians, however not all pharmacy techs may be aware of this.  We have had clients become very frustrated with human pharmacies because their staff is not aware that they can fill a script for dog or cat.

Also you should be aware that not all drugs used in veterinary medicine are available through human pharmacies.  Many drugs are specifically labeled for use in certain animals only.  In these cases, you may not be able to get these drugs through a human pharmacy.

Human Pharmacists are trained in human usage of the drugs they sell.  Dosages and uses of medications vary widely between humans and other animals and if your pharmacist is not trained in veterinary uses, they cannot answer questions about the medication or side effects.

Occasionally our clients are shocked at the prices they pay through human pharmacies.  Human medication is expensive.  Those of us with health insurance rarely see the retail prices for the medications we take, but when you go to buy medication for your pet, you will certainly see the retail price.  One client recently took a script for medication for his cat to a human pharmacy where he found it was going to cost $365 per month for the medication.  When he called us seeking alternatives, I calculated the priced for the same medication through us - it would be $35 per month.

Internet Pharmacies


Using an Internet pharmacy may be a little easier than using a human pharmacy.  Online pet pharmacies are targeting veterinary patients and are more likely to stock the medication your pet needs.  However, online pharmacies also present some unique issues of their own.

Often, internet pharmacies are unable to dispense less than full bottle prescriptions—for example, if the doctor prescribes 14 tablets, the online pharmacies will want to sell you a whole bottle of 100 tablets.  Please note, it is illegal for doctors to alter a prescription, unless there is a medical need for your pet to have more medication than was originally prescribed.

Pharmaceutical manufacturers will only honor product guarantees when the medications are prescribed by and purchased from the pet’s Veterinarian.  Internet and mail order catalogs do not qualify for those guarantees.  If your pet has an adverse reaction to a medication you purchased from an online pharmacy, you are on your own to seek care for your pet.  When the medication is purchased through your veterinarian, the manufacturer will often help with the care of your pet.

Any prescription medication purchased from your Veterinarian has been inspected and approved by the FDA, and manufactured and packaged according to U.S. government regulations.  Medications purchased online may have originated outside the United States.  If approved by the FDA, it should be labeled “Caution: Federal law restricts this drug to be used by or on the order of a veterinarian”.  Dot not use products that do not have this warning or have had the label altered or removed.  Medications filled in your Vet's pharmacy are always handled and stored properly and expired medication is never dispensed.

Final Words Of Advice

  • Never assume that your Vet's office will be more expensive than human or online alternatives.  When asking for a prescription always ask for the cost of the medication from your vet's office.  
  • Remember to consider shipping costs when comparing online prices..
  • Ask your Vet's office if they have their own online pharmacy or mailing service.  It is becoming more common for clinics to offer these services.
  • Be aware that online pharmacies may attempt to sell you more than you need or offer you a different product based on their stock availability.
  • If you use a human pharmacy, call before you arrive to find out if they carry the medication you are looking for.
Never be embarrassed to ask for a written prescription, it is your right.  But be sure to do you homework to make sure that you are getting the deal you think you are getting.  Remember, pet prescriptions are a big business and there are a lot of companies that want your prescription dollars.