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The Dirty Truth About Online Pet Med Companies

Several months ago, our drug rep for Merial, a very prominent animal health care pharmaceutical, was in my hospital giving the staff a learning seminar about their flea and tick product, Frontline. What prompted Rob to come in educate the staff about Frontline, was the fact that I had mentioned to him on one of his visits that I was seeing an increased number of patients that were having flea and tick troubles despite having Frontline applied as directed.

The first premise that he discussed is that the first question that we should ask the client when Frontline fails, is where he or she is purchasing the product. The reason Rob brought this up is that Merial does not sell to online pharmacies, but deal only directly with veterinarians. Since they refuse to stock these pharmacies, the pet medications they sell must come from overseas.

These overseas products do not undergo the scrutiny of the USDA as a result lack quality control. This leads to products that are not what they claim to be, and are even found to be outright counterfeits. Merial is legally powerless to stop this, since apparently our government does not care about the health of its citizens’ pets (overseas prescription medication is expressly forbidden in human medicine). As a result, Merial, as well as many other animal health pharmaceuticals, refuse to guarantee the safety and effectiveness of their medications and preventives that are purchased online.

Frontline is an excellent product with a great reputation, and for it to fail is unusual and usually because the pets’ environment is heavily saturated with fleas and/or ticks. As my staff and I began to examine cases of failure of Frontline effectiveness, we found the a large percentage of Frontline failures were from Frontline that was purchased from online pharmacies.

Once we came to this realization, we became concerned about how potentially dangerous it would be for for a patient to be on an ineffective or counterfeit heartoworm preventive, especially here in Florida where the disease is so prevalent. In the three years that I have practiced in Florida, there have been a handful of cases where dogs have gotten heartworm disease despite being on a reputable brand name preventive. I can only wonder if any of these cases were the result of patients being treated with preventive purchased from online pharmacies. I certainly plan to keep track of this in such future cases.

As a result of all this, I found a company called vetcentric that has set up an online pharmacy for my hospital (Maybeck Animal Hospital VetStore). Pet medication pharmaceuticals readily sell to Vetcentric, since they represent animal clinics directly. Not having to pay inventory costs to offer the items, I can offer the pet meds at a discounted price, often competitive with online pharmacies. Also, the clients still get the benefit of home delivery, but the product they recieve comes from the USA based manufacturers, complete with the manufacturer guarantee of safety and effectiveness.

Roger L. Welton, DVM

One thought on “The Dirty Truth About Online Pet Med Companies

  1. Michael says:

    “our government does not care about the health of its citizens’ pets”

    Guess who else doesn’t.
    Pharmaceutical companies.
    Their PR efforts paint a lovely image for most consumers, and even most doctors, but the reality is that they spend virtually all of their time throwing together miscellaneous *patentable* chemicals and injecting them into animals to see what happens. They can, and do, produce & push products that have negative side effects which outweigh the positive benefits. They can, and do, push their harmful products even when they know there are safer (sometimes even completely side-effect-free) alternatives. They can, and do, add harmful and completely unnecessary chemicals to potential products for the sole purpose of producing a new combination that hasn’t been patented yet.
    They can, and do, work to demonize unpatentable natural remedies that threaten their profits and they even work to make it illegal for doctors to prescribe such remedies.
    They can, and do, pour billions of dollars into convincing doctors to prescribe their products to patients that don’t actually need them.

    Pharmaceutical companies are essentially psychopaths that pull just about every dirty trick in the book to increase their profits. They have no ethics of any kind, just expensive PR firms that are good at giving the impression that they have ethics. They don’t care at all if their products make you sick or kill you or your pet (especially your pet); they only care about the likeliness of being successfully prosecuted for it.
    If they know for certain that one of their products will cause your pet to have cancer six years after administration, they won’t tell anyone about it because they know that it’s extremely unlikely that anyone will find out, or be able to prove, that it was their product which caused the cancer.

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