Ordering pet medications online can be safe if you use a legitimate online pharmacy and mail in the prescription provided by your veterinarian.
However, many illegal pharmacy websites have come into existence, and it is imperative that a pet owner follow a few basic rules of thumb on how to determine which sites are safe to use.
For example, on June 27, 2013, The Wall Street Journal announced that Federal regulators and law-enforcement agencies shut down 1,600 illegal pharmacy websites that week, including fake Walgreens and CVS websites.
“Many of these websites are professionally done,” said John Roth, director of the FDA's office of criminal investigations. “This is an ongoing battle in the U.S. and abroad.”
Only your veterinarian should examine your pet:
Beware of websites that offer to evaluate your pet. Only your veterinarian can and must perform a physical examination on your pet to determine the appropriate drug-related therapy. At that point, your veterinarian can offer a prescription for an appropriate and safe FDA approved medication.
Always mail in your prescription to the pharmacy:
Does the website ask for a veterinarian’s prescription? If not, this is a basic sign that a website isn't legitimate. In fact, they are breaking the law under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act by not requiring a prescription.
The FDA has reported finding companies selling unapproved pet drugs and counterfeit pet products when there is no prescription required by the site.
Always check the online site’s accreditation:
Talk to your veterinarian. When you order online from your veterinarian’s outsourced prescription management service, you are assured that this is a state licensed site.
Also, look for sites that carry the Vet-VIPPS (Veterinary-Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites) logo. This logo also ensures they are appropriately licensed in the states from which they ship the drugs and have met other qualifying criteria, such as quality assurance of their products.
You can find more valuable information on the FDA website. View this practical video produced by the FDA and print out a handy flyer that goes into further detail called Purchasing Pet Drugs Online: Buyer Beware.
Please feel free to call us at 908-874-4447 if you have further questions or wish to schedule an appointment.
Dr. Joe Martins, DVM, Belle Mead Animal Hospital