Internet Pharmacy vs. Our Pharmacy

October 2019

This month’s topic is about buying medications from St. Francis Hospital for Animals versus purchasing them from an online pharmacy. This is a controversial topic amongst veterinarians and some pet owners, one that may be getting even more so due to the entrance of huge companies such as Wal-Mart into this aspect of veterinary care. I am going to go over the reasons why we at St. Francis think that is more prudent to purchase medications from our hospital as opposed to another pharmacy, be it online or a walk-in chain pharmacy.

Medications for our patients can be obtained due to a veterinary-patient-client relationship. This means we have seen your pet and have made a comprehensive exam within the last year. This is a logical requirement partly due to rapid aging of our patients, as health changes can occur quickly in cats and dogs. It is a legal requirement as well. Prescriptions cannot approve or be written if we have not seen the pet in over a year.

There are questions about the legitimacy of the medications that can be purchased online. This may relate to the ethics of the company involved or if the drugs that can be purchased are indeed the actual medications. Some of the internet companies may sell counterfeit medications that can either be ineffective or even worse, dangerous for your pet. The sources of the medications may not be known, and possibly not approved by the FDA, which oversees medications for human and veterinary patients. All of our medications are approved by the FDA, safely packaged, and our source companies are well known, trusted distributors that we have been doing business for many years.

Pharmaceutical manufacturers will only honor product guarantees if the medications are prescribed and purchased from the pet’s veterinarian. One example of this guarantee is the efficacy of the preventatives that we prescribe to our patients. Heartworm preventatives, if purchased from our hospital, have a guarantee that the patient should not contract the disease if the product is given as directed. In the unlikely chance that a dog comes down with heartworm while on the preventative, the company will pay for the treatment for that patient. They will not do that if that preventative is purchased from another location, be it an online company or walk-in store.

We at St. Francis are well educated on the types of drugs that are needed to treat our patients, from common supplements that are used for maintenance of chronic condition to the latest medications that have been effective in treating the illnesses we see at our hospital. The internet or human pharmacies don’t know our patients, may not know specific information that is needed regarding our patients, they just know that they need a specific medication and will sell it to the client. Human pharmacists will most likely not know the specific pharmacological effects of certain drugs on our veterinary patients, and may not even know the proper doses needed for our patients. They are relying on the instructions given to them by us or other veterinarians for that information. If there are any questions regarding any medications, you need to ask your pet’s doctor, not a pharmacist, or Doctor Google.

Parasite preventatives are something we take seriously at St. Francis. The preventatives are prescription medications, so we have to have seen your pet within the last year to be able to prescribe it. Types of preventatives that we recommend are for heartworms, fleas, ticks, and intestinal parasites. We want all of our patients to be given these preventives for several reasons. First of all, these will keep bugs or worms from being either on your animal or living inside of it. Having these certain parasites may lead to contracting disease, be it a simple case of diarrhea or at the other extreme, heart failure due to an overload of heartworms in the lungs and heart. Preventing these diseases can be simple, it can be due to medication given monthly, or even over longer periods depending on the method it is given. They also could prevent an infestation of fleas in your home, which can be a difficult problem to fix. Like I mentioned before, these products are not guaranteed if they are purchased from an online pharmacy or other location. We will be sending out information soon regarding our plan for these preventatives, and why getting them from us is the best option, practically and financially.

We feel that the best source for your pet’s medication is at St. Francis because of our relationship with our clients, and their animals. We know these animal’s histories and know the specifics of why we need to use the drugs we dispense or recommend them for use. We realize that sometimes it may be necessary to obtain a written prescription, be it for financial or practical reasons. We will be happy to honor those requests at any time, as long as we have examined your pet in the last year. Obtaining medications from us can have guarantees, and supports our hospital so we are able to give the best care for your pet. We also have the knowledge to answer any questions that you may have about these medications. Please give us a call or ask at the next visit with your pet if you have any questions or concerns regarding any medications. We appreciate your continued patronage, and are looking forward to seeing your pets at their next visits.

Dr. Jaime Kozelka
St. Francis Hospital for Animals