The Edmond Sun

Features

July 16, 2012

Online pet pharmacies not always legit

EDMOND — So you’re the proud owner of two dogs and a cat, your veterinary bills are beginning to get out of control, and now you’re thinking of obtaining your pet’s prescription medications from one of those online pet pharmacies that have been proliferating lately. Their eye-catching and attention-grabbing ads are convincing in their promise of convenience and much lower prices — but are those claims always factual? Well, not always.

Internet sites that sell pet drugs can be, and some are, reputable pharmacies. But, unfortunately, several of them are fronts for businesses that are breaking federal, state and sometimes international laws by selling meds that are counterfeit, mislabeled, incorrectly formulated, repackaged or improperly made or stored. Consequently, it’s buyer beware when you view an online ad that states “Discount pet drugs — no prescription required.” This may appeal to some pet owners who are bargain hunting, but FDA experts say it is often risky to purchase drugs from sites that tout such messages.  

Several states have fined two of the more popular web-based pet pharmacies in the past year for several transgressions.

If you still want to purchase your pet’s prescription drugs online, protect yourself and the health of the pet, by doing some homework. A good place to start is by going to www.FDA.gov and searching for “online pet pharmacies.” This source provides a wealth of information on the subject.

The following are a few red flag criteria for you to consider:

• Site has no licensed pharmacist to answer questions.

• Site does not list physical business address, phone number or other contact information.

• Online consults or questionnaires do not take the place of a valid veterinary prescription.

• Site is not based in the United States.

• Site is not licensed by state board of pharmacy where business is located.

• Site’s prices are dramatically lower than your veterinarian’s or other website prices. If it seems too good to be true, then it probably is.

To be fair, there are several online pet pharmacies that are trustworthy and honor only written prescriptions from a licensed veterinarian, and may help in solving the problem of rising health care costs. But in the long run, informed sources believe that buying your pet’s medications directly from your trusted local veterinarian is still the easiest and safest way to ensure that you’re getting what you paid for and what your pet actually needs.    

 

DR. WILLIAM K. FAUKS is a retired Oklahoma City veterinarian. If you have any questions regarding the health of your pet, please write to “Ask a Vet,” at 3142 Venice Blvd., Oklahoma City, OK 73112, or email bfauks1@aol.com.

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