We all know that we live in a world that is all about convenience. Our gas stations now have drive-throughs. Amazon is beating out local brick and mortar stores. Grocery stores have drive-thru pick up services. Absolutely everything is aiming to be more convenient. It definitely makes our day to day life much easier, but there can be unforeseen consequences to some of that convenience. One of those consequences is something that hits me a little more personally than others, so I am going to talk about it this month. It’s time to talk about third party pharmacies.
It is almost impossible to turn on your tv or browse on your computer without seeing an advertisement for a third party pharmacy that carries veterinary products. They advertise being less expensive, more convenient, and just as good as your veterinarian’s office. This would make them tempting to anyone! Why wouldn’t you want to use them? Well, that’s what we are here to talk about! I am going to address the possible consequences that you may experience when you use a third-party pharmacy.
One of the unknown facts about third party pharmacies is that the products they sell are no longer backed by the manufacturer. This may not sound like a big deal, but it is! While most preventative medications are very safe, there is always a risk of adverse reactions. When you buy the product from your local veterinarian and your pet has a reaction, we get to become your advocate to the manufacturer. We present the case and the treatments given. The company will then usually pay for most of the treatment, if not all of it. When you purchase those same products from a third party pharmacy, the manufacturer will no longer pay for anything. You are left with the bill for everything. The pharmacy will usually pay for the cost of the preventative you bought, but nothing else. This is a big deal.
Most people are tempted by third party pharmacies for the cost. Who wouldn’t be?! I know I try to save money anywhere I can. However, here’s the truth. Most of the time, they will be able to discount it for your first purchase, but then the price increases back to normal. If they are able to continuously keep their prices lower, you should be concerned. Why? Because of something called the Minimum Advertised Price. This is an agreement between all large manufacturers in the country to keep prices at a certain point no matter where they are sold from. This applies to veterinary companies as well. When third party pharmacies are able to continue selling beneath your veterinarian, then that means one of two things: they are selling counterfeit products or they are getting them from China or other countries – not the true manufacturer. Who cares if you are saving money if the product you are buying does nothing for your pet? Most veterinarians are willing to price match anyways. We want your pet to be safe!! On top of that, most manufacturers have really great rebates on their products but will not honor receipts from third party pharmacies – only from your veterinarian.
Third-party pharmacy employees are not trained to know what the products actually are used for. Many times we are asked to approve orders for medications that prevent the exact same thing for the same animal. The third-party pharmacy does not know the difference, so you will, again, be wasting money and over-treating your pet. They also continuously will fill the incorrect dose because they do not have updated weights for your pet.
When you order medications from a third-party pharmacy, your veterinarian no longer knows everything your animal is taking. If you are unable to remember what preventatives you bought, we may not be able to treat your pet appropriately because we will not be able to anticipate drug interactions or overdoses. This is dangerous. When you buy your pet’s preventative medications from your veterinarian, their medical record is complete and we are able to treat appropriately and safely.
Convenience is a great thing. I am totally guilty of ordering my toilet paper off of Amazon because I don’t want to leave the comfort of my house. However, when it comes to the health and safety of my loved ones, that is where I draw the line. It is not worth saving a little bit of money if there is any chance of harm. I know that every pet parent feels the same way. Most veterinarians now have online pharmacies that will ship to your door as well. If the convenience of it coming to you is still available, then just make the safe decision of buying from your veterinarian. It’s our job to keep them safe and healthy.
About the Author
Dr. Heritage Enevoldsen