Some Online Pharmacies are Awesome. Some are not.

Near the end of March 2011, I was happily researching for my April heartworm post, Happy Heartworm-Free April! when I came across this website:  heartworm-medicine.info.  I e-mailed the site administrator to let him know that dispensing prescription medication without a prescription is illegal.  (Ever the optimist, I was hoping he just did not know…)  His return e-mail (basically) said, no, it isn’t.

My formal complaint to the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) and copied to AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) (basically) said:  He’s not playing fair and someone is going to get hurt!

From the Heartworm Medicine website:  “Can I get non prescription heartworm medicine?  Absolutely. All the heartworm medicines available from here are prescription free. This should make the ordering process much easier for you.”

From the website of the “pharmacy” they use:

  • Choose items and place them in your shopping cart.
  • When you checkout you will be asked to create an account and fill out a brief patient profile.
  • Follow the steps to complete your purchase.
  • Fax or mail the prescription from your Veterinarian to us.
  • Your Veterinarian’s prescription will be reviewed and re-written by a Canadian Veterinarian or Doctor and dispensed by an Independent Pharmacy.

I am usually extremely easygoing.  I can find good and the upside to about anything and anyone.  I can count on both hands my non-negotiables.  Among them,

(1)  the welfare of pets

(2)  the well-being of people

(3)  high ethical standards.

OK, I don’t have many non-negotiables, but I admit, the ones I have are kind of big.

And not that this matters in the least, as far as grand sweeping ideals go, but the heartworm preventatative medications carried in house (which is probably true of many veterinary hospitals) are cheaper than those being offered on this “prescription-free” website.

Veterinary teams really do try to keep costs reasonable for pet owners.  We have pets too!  We know what little money-sucks they can be!

This situation made me so angry!  We have the medical protocols in place that we do for very good reasons.

Here is the basic heartworm prevention program of most veterinary hospitals, and most clients are just fine with it, knowing we are trying really hard to keep their pets safe and to keep costs manageable…

  • Establish a veterinary-owner-pet relationship.
  • Have a wellness examination of the pet done.
  • Have an annual heartworm test done.
  • Choose a safe, effective, pet-specific and weight-specific heartworm preventative medication from a reliable source.
  • Obtain it legally right from the veterinary hospital or an excellent veterinary pharmacy trusted by both the client and the veterinary team.

Pharmacies are NOT the bad guys here…Rule breakers are.  Most pharmacies (including Wedgewood Pharmacy online) do an excellent job partnering with veterinarians to keep pets healthy and safe and provide a much broader range of medical options than we can in-house.

It just made me mad enough to write a strongly worded letter!

Dear Rule Breaker,

Pets, and by association, owners, could be seriously hurt by what you are doing.  It is also unethical.  That’s three strikes.  Do not mess with what is important to me.

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