Should You Trust Online Pharmacies?

I don’t know what I would do without online shopping! I was never an online shopper before. I was someone who wanted to see and feel and try before I bought, but a chronic illness has changed all that. I now hop online whenever we need anything. Amazon has become my best friend for most personal and household items. For clothing I choose shops that offer free shipping and free returns. I pay my bills online, pay our Tampa road tolls—anything I can get away with doing online, I happily click away. Sometimes there’s a “convenience” fee, but a $2 fee is well worth the savings on gas and my time traveling.

When I do venture out into the real world of retail, I constantly ask myself, “Can I get this cheaper online?” I whip out my trusty smart phone and within a couple of minutes I know if I can get a better deal elsewhere or if it’s worth the couple of extra dollars to have it right then, and knowing if I don’t like it I can return it hassle free. Additionally, some stores even price match on the same item if I find it cheaper online!

One thing I won’t trust to online shopping though is my dog’s prescriptions. Why? Why wouldn’t I want to potentially save a few bucks and have Chloe’s heartworm prevention delivered right to my front door?! It’s because the world of online pet pharmacies can be murky, to say the least. And…I’ll let you in on a little secret…It might not be cheaper than Northeast Animal Hospital and Downtown St. Pete Animal Hospital!

First, let’s talk about some online pharmacies’ little secret, and it’s a dirty one! Did you know that most drug companies only sell to licensed veterinarians? Then how do online pharmacies get their drugs? One of two ways: they either buy from veterinarians who divert the products they buy for their practices, or they buy counterfeit or foreign products that are not approved for use or sale in the United States.

It is not illegal for veterinarians to divert products, but it does violate their agreement with the drug company to resell their products to online pharmacies. I also question what kind of company would break federal law by illegally importing foreign drugs that are not approved for use or sale in the U.S. What other laws are they willing to break? How can I trust my pet’s health—even life—to a company willing to break federal law?

It is impossible to monitor how online pharmacies store their products. Storing products in too hot, cold or humid facilities can affect the potency of drugs, even making them absolutely useless. In addition, counterfeit drugs can be difficult to spot. Packaging can look completely authentic even down to the identity of the source.

According to the FDA, there are some legitimate online pharmacies, but they warn that there are red flags to watch for. Medications that are outdated may be mislabeled, incorrectly formulated, or improperly made. And if you are unhappy with the product, you may be left with no way to get your money back.

Northeast Animal Hospital and Downtown St. Pete Animal Hospital have always taken a stand against online pharmacies. We wish to be partners in your pet’s health and stringently adhere to proper purchasing, storing, and distributing of your pet’s medications.  And here’s the little secret from the outset: If you find a lower price online for your pet’s prescription medication, we can match it!* Live out of town? We will happily mail it to you. We want to ensure your pet is getting the proper medication, labeled correctly with dispensing directions. Also, if your pet cannot tolerate a certain medication, we will happily credit your account.

So if you’re looking for convenience when it comes to your pet, save the online shopping for toys and accessories, or ask us about our line of natural pet foods that can be delivered to your home, but for the safety and well-being of your pet, stick to local pharmacies. You’ll also be helping to Keep Saint Petersburg Local!

*Some restrictions apply. Please ask us for more details.