Vet's Office Says Shopping Online Endangers My Pet, Won't Approve Prescription

Pets are excellent companions. The Consumerist K-9 Unit is snuggled up against me right now as I type this. But keeping your kritters healthy and parasite-free can get expensive. Sean just adopted a new puppy (pictured at left) and shopped around for a heartworm and flea preventative medication. That’s common enough, and a number of sites offer the products. What was unusual was that the vet’s office refused to fill the prescription, saying that they were happy to price match the online price (that’s good) and that he was taking his pup’s life in his hands by purchasing medications online, since they could be expired or counterfeit or poisonous or who knows what?

Sean writes:

I had a recent spat at my vet’s office that could use some expert clarification.

After a relatively over-priced check up for a puppy that we had just adopted, I went online to get some quotes for his heartworm & flea prevention medicine. We settled on “Revolution” and saw that 1-800-PETMEDS had the lowest price for a 6 month supply, approximately $85 with free shipping.

I submitted my order and, several days later, received an email saying that our vet would not fill the prescription. I called the office to see what was going on, and was told that they offer a “price match” on 1-800-PETMEDS. I figured they were just trying to win my business, so I went to the office to get the prescription there.

They offered a price match, but it came with a rather long and condescending lecture on the dangers of ordering pet medications from websites. They even provided me with literature. The pamphlet had some questionable assertions and vague statistics. Basically, I was left with the notion that they’d be happy to “take a loss” if it meant the welfare of my dog. I didn’t appreciate the implication, nor them telling me that they would not authorize a prescription to 1-800-PETMEDS because of its “corrupt business practices.” They were essentially holding me hostage, but since the price was the same, I didn’t argue the point.

Time for a refill, and I was back in the same boat. Only this time, they wouldn’t match the price completely, because there was a 10% off coupon which “they didn’t do.” So, I got loud and demanded the prescription, which they begrudgingly acquiesced to. Now I’m waiting for them to approve the order on 1-800-PETMEDS.

Are my vet’s claims legitimate? Does 1-800-PETMEDS get their medications “illegally” from “unapproved” sources and from “overseas distributors” with “no quality controls.” Or, is this a case where my vet is trying to muscle a cheaper provider out of business, so they can charge $115 for something that you can get for $85 online?

Personally, I’m leaning towards the later. But I’d love to know if there’s something fishy about 1-800-PETMEDS’ business.

First, the important part: here is another picture of Franklin, the puppy.

If they’re going to price-match, they should price-match and spare you the lecture. While there are certainly some animal (and human) pharmacies online that source their medications from shady channels, 1800PetMeds isn’t one of them.

The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy has an accreditation program just like the one available for online human pharmacies. It’s called Vet-VIPPS, which is very fun to say. While there are some legit sites that aren’t part of the program, you can be confident that pharmacies accredited by that program are not shipping you vials of cat poison disguised as flea control meds.

Also, unless you’re very attached to this current vet, get a copy of your new pup’s records and find a new one.

How To Avoid Scammy Online Pet Drug Merchants

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