Something to Know About Pet Pharmacies

Pick a Human Pharmacy Instead.

Of course, pet pharmacies make a great show of legitimacy. But you’ll be surprised. The Big Three are actually all ONE company (Chewy, Petmeds, Petsmart and PetCareRx pharmacies are a single, subcontracted vendor on their respective platforms) and that companies’ operation simply cannot rate human pharmaceuticals. They are not up to par with the requisite compliance-issues, and that’s not for me to judge. That was determined by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy which will not issue VIPPS Accreditation to those pharmacies until they step up to human standard pharmacy compliance.  And that will never happen because a human pharmacy can’t import drugs (real or counterfeit) from other countries to sell outside their intended global markets. Common practice in pet pharmacy. So yes. I guess I am squarely in your way on this.

“You just don’t want to write prescriptions for stuff you sell!”

Not so. Lots of human pharmacies sell pet products. And I’ll write those prescriptions* Because at human pharmacies they:

  • Are legally obligated to be cautious and show concern.
  • Are legally obligated to check little details like indication and dosage.
  • Are legally obligated to verify facts and prescription legitimacy
  • Are legally obligated to keep good records, securely
  • Are legally obligated to buy their inventory from licensed wholesales
You wanna know who’s doing it right?! I hate to admit it, but they are setting a real standard and these rinky-dink pet pharmacies are going to need to look out. Uncle Sam won’t be tolerating their little flea-bitten side show once Amazon Pillpack defines the new standard.

But there’s two more things.

I have GOT to tell you the most annoying thing about these p.o.s. “pet” pharmacies. When you see their advertisement on TV and go to their site, people start looking around and they see stuff they think might be good for their pet. So they order it. And often, it requires a prescription, so the Pet Pharmacy (supposedly a human being there, ha ha ha!!!) sends me a prescription to authorize. And it’s for something that would kill the client’s cat SO FAST, it wouldn’t even get to my office in time for stomach pumping.

It doesn’t work that way at human pharmacies:

People can’t just walk up to a human pharmacist and say “I think my pet needs this, please send prescription authorization to my Vet.” Pet Pharmacies oblige this CONSTANTLY. What idiots.

I get prescription authorizations for:

  1. Flea control that kills cats (Products for dogs only)
  2. Nsaids that kill cats (Acetaminophen in the formula)
  3. Two of the same category (redundant) medications,
  4. Two antagonistic medications for heart conditions because ‘my grandfather takes that and I thought it would help my dog”,
  5. A dose on thyroid medications so low that it wouldn’t help a church mouse, (Owner and Dr Google just guessed the dog had thyroid problems)
  6. Heartworm pill refills for three years in a row with the prescription date LITERALLY hand scratched out,
  7. An authorization for brand Vetoryl when the generic would have been a quarter the price. (I should have let the client pay for the $50 stuff instead of pointing him at the $12 stuff)
  8. Heartworm pills at $4 off per box while we were running a buy-two-get-one from the manufacturer at the office.
  9. Authorizations for fake heartworm pills.
  10. Fake authorizations for real heartworm pills.
  11. Heartworm pills with Dutch (?) labeling from South Africa or something?
  12. There’s more, except the number of instances is rarer.

*Second thing:

We charge a prescription fee. It’s always HALF of what my doctor charges me for prescription refills.

Nutshell it? It’s a manpower and record keeping thing. It’s just a pain in the neck. Further, I’m releasing my license and DEA# to businesses that are (truly I swear to God) technologically and morally ill-equipped to protect it, and $12-15 is half of what ANY of my own doctors charge to call/write me one. And I understand why they charge for it:

If calling in or writing prescriptions wasn’t compensated in some small way, I’d just let them accumulate for the month and put a staffer on “authorizations and records” every thirty days or so like they do with insurance billing on the human side.

Part of a “complete medical record” is keeping track of what medicines your dog or cat is taking. How and why you give it. And that record keeping doesn’t just happen when we “phone one in” – the way it automatically does with the prescription label that prints out and the data drops into the record when we prescribe here.

I’m being EXTREMELY candid here: After the first minute, I don’t care, once I realize that the client doesn’t. I can’t fret about it. If they are willing to buy anything from anyone, anywhere, despite the facts, I have enough to worry about with my ‘regular price customers’ – So I’m really not trying to get in their way (Easy way out).  In the final analysis they can (and probably will) get upset and go down the road to ‘find ways around’ the reasonable policies of another clinic.

When I take a staffer ‘out of the loop’ to call or write a prescription, and then go in the record and document that, and then swing around later to make sure it’s legally expired the following year, you understand the prescription fee. It’s probably low.

If calling in or writing prescriptions wasn’t compensated in some small way, I’d just let them accumulate for the month, and put a staffer on “authorizations and records” every thirty days or so like they do with insurance billing on the human side.









Dr Erik Johnson is a Marietta, Georgia Veterinarian with a practice in small animal medicine. He graduated from University of Georgia with his Doctorate in 1991. Dr Johnson is the author of several texts on Koi and Pond Fish Health and Disease as well as numerous articles on dog and cat health topics.