NABP + VIPPS Certification

If you’re SURE you want to do business with them, I’m not in the least way, the one holding you back from getting medicines from these online pharmacies. Just write your own prescription. They have never, ever checked. Seriously.

Download this article

See also: Sorry! We won’t prescribe through a non VIPPS Internet Pharmacy

Petmeds is not VIPPS compliant/eligible. It matters a LOT to prescribers.  What’s VIPPS?

Every state has a “Board of Pharmacy” that monitors their state’s pharmacies. These boards provide standards of record keeping, supply-chain integrity, and compliance with state and federal law.

“I’m going to turn you in to the Board!!’  Yeah, THAT Board.

Anyway. These Boards of Pharmacy operated together and independently, then, one day, they decided to band together and create uniformity in the administration of standards and applicable laws. So that the Georgia pharmacy-law looked like the Mississippi pharmacy-law.

The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy was formed (1904).

Further, (much more recently) they founded a .pharmacy TLD.

Let me explain that: Some businesses have .COM and .NET after their name.

If you’re a “real” pharmacy you can get .PHARMACY after your business name.  Being a ‘real’ pharmacy eligible for a dot-pharmacy TLD means you have a license to operate in a particular region, and the State acknowledges you.

But that doesn’t mean you’re in compliance with state and federal law. PetMed uses their dot-pharmacy as an accreditation. If you check the VIPPS list, they didn’t rate. They will never rate NABP / VIPPS accreditation for the three reasons listed later.

What proves that your business is compliant with state and federal laws? VIPPS certification.

VIPPS Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites (1999)

NABP started this certification program in 1999 as Internet pharmacies started popping up.

If you are not VIPPS certified, you have been found to be non-compliant with one or more of a state’s pharmacy laws. That’s a deal breaker for me.

You can do that without ‘technically’ breaking the law, but you are DEFINITELY bending laws. Sadly, with “they’re only dog drugs”, you can break the law and enforcement isn’t likely, because the government is overwhelmed with opiate regulation right now. That’s a fact. There are only about a hundred FDA field agents directly inspecting pharmacies for violations.

Let’s put that in perspective: There are approximately 67,000 pharmacies in the United States. Almost half (33,000) are located within drug stores, grocery stores, hospitals, department stores, medical clinics, surgery clinics, universities, nursing homes, prisons, and other facilities.100 Field agents. And they’re worrying about heartworm prevention. Uh huh.

*Want proof? Send most online pharmacies (non VIPPS) THIS prescription and see if they’ll fill it, no questions asked.  You’ll be surprised. For the online rinky-dink “pet pharmacies” it’s not about accountability. It’s about selling pet products. What does it say to you about being a ‘real’ pharmacy if they can’t fill human prescriptions? Try a fake script on a real pharmacist at a real pharmacy and you’ll get a blank stare, and a big fat NO.

Here are things a pharmacy cannot do and still be Board/VIPPS compliant.

  • Wholesale (source) drugs or products from other distribution channels
  • Wholesale (source) drugs or products from other countries.
  • Neglect quality control and supply chain standards, allowing the business to sell counterfeit product whether knowingly or not.
  • Filling prescriptions without a documented, legitimate protocol for verifying prescriber information and licensure.
  • Filling prescriptions without documented prescriber authorization.

Sadly, the very first three misbehaviors knock most online pet pharmacies (In particular: PetCareRx and PetMeds) out of the running. The last two are variable between online pharmacies but is all too common, and very easy to test.

Ok so here’s the thing. All this to say the following: First, even after all the discussion and arguing, I will never, ever provide my signature or prescribing information to one of those rinky-dink-online-dog-and-pony-shows*. And that is 100% for MY protection. It’s not about you.

*I will for VIPPS Pharmacies, though.

Secondly, whether you know it or not, you can send a prescription with anyone’s name and address on it and the majority of non VIPPS pharmacies will fill it for you. They NEVER, EVER in 23 years, ever, called or concerned themselves with the legitimacy of a prescription. So if you’re SURE you want to do business with them, I’m not in the least way, the one holding you back from getting medicines from these online pharmacies.

So why don’t these online retailers seem to care about VIPPS? Because their television ads trump the marketing value of a VIPPS certification handily. Their business is not adversely affected by a lack of VIPPS certification because people are responding to the marketing. “There is NO WAY you can run television ads and be traded on the stock market and be shady-business!”    Right?  Enron. Haliburton. WorldCom, Bre-X, Union Carbide (Bhopal) and the list goes on. 

Price conscious shoppers aren’t the ones who lose their licenses if sensitive information about clients is pillaged by shoddy record-custody, or filled/refilled without a VCPR, or sued if a prescribed item is filled incorrectly resembling malpractice, or filled/refilled under my name/clinic name without my knowledge.






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.