Pet Med Legislation: The Battle For Transparency

Pet Med Legislation is coming that might make your pet meds more expensive! 

Do you always get your pet medications from your veterinarian? Most people don’t even know that there are other options.

Drawn to the $7.6 billion-a-year pet medication market, more competition is quickly stirring up the old standby formula of getting a prescription from the vet and buying the medication right there.

Big box stores, pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens, and online pet stores not only sell pet medications, they often have more competitive prices. Consumer Reports has found that vet markups on prescription medications are often 100% or more, sometimes hitting as much as 1,000%.

This host of new options for buying pet medications, and a battle over national legislation, are poised to allow pet parents to find the best deals for themselves.

Karen Sable, a Munhall, PA pet parent to a 12-year-old cat, picked up her cat’s antibiotics from the local grocery store, where a Giant Eagle pharmacy carried the antibiotic for no charge.

At Target, customers can apply pet medications to a promotion offering 5% off a day’s purchases.

PetCareRx.com carries hundreds of pet medications, and is Vet-VIPPS certified, meaning the site is recommended by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP)–an organization that makes sure online pharmacies meet state and federal licensing requirements.

Not all veterinarians are pleased by this new competition. Deb Otlano, a West Mifflin, PA pet parent, who breeds Doberman Pinschers, says that she does feel push-back when asking a vet for a prescription so she can purchase the medications elsewhere.

Changing the Status Quo

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that this changing pet medication landscape reflects “the willingness of cost-conscious pet-owners to step out on their vets.”

The status quo has long been that veterinarians both prescribe the medication and sell the medication to the pet parent. In fact, some pet medication manufacturers only sell their medications through vets. Elanco has said this is its policy in order to preserve the integrity of pet owner-vet relationship.

The battle for transparency in pet medications began in 2011, when Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, introduced a bill that would require vets to provide written prescriptions that clients could fill wherever they wanted. That bill faced strong opposition from The American Veterinary Medical Association, and the bill died.

Just last month, Mr. Matheson reintroduced the legislation, along with Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah. The Fairness to Pet Owners Act, if passed, will mean that pet parents will automatically receive a copy of their pet’s prescriptions without having to ask for it, signing a waiver from the vet, or paying a fee.

What Do You Think?

Where do you buy your pet’s medications? Do you always shop for the best price?

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2 Comments

  1. 1

    At the veterinary hospital that I work at, we routinely offer clients the option of going to Publix, eg., to get free antibiotics. We want what is best for their pet, however, we follow the FDA’s recommendation on online pharmacy.
    http://www.fda.gov/animalveterinary/resourcesforyou/animalhealthliteracy/ucm203000.htm

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