In today’s busy world, buying your pet’s medications online can be a convenient way to save time. Sometimes, though, online sellers make offers that are simply too good to be true, and this can be a dangerous warning sign. Although they may offer great perks like unbelievably low pricing, illegitimate online pharmacies can put your pet’s health at risk by dispensing counterfeit medications that contain harmful ingredients, cause dangerous side effects, or simply contain too much or too little of the active ingredient needed to treat your pet’s condition. They may also store medications improperly, which can cause even a properly manufactured medication to become ineffective at treating the condition it was intended to cure or control. So how do you safely buy medications online and avoid putting your pet’s health at risk with unapproved or counterfeit products? Below are a few quick tips from our staff.
Choose a pharmacy that is approved by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy
In 1999, the NABP developed the Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites program to accredit online pharmacies and ensures that medications are dispensed by a licensed pharmacist and sourced in accordance with responsible standards of care. Any website bearing the VIPPS Seal is certified as a website that has met state licensure requirements and is a safe and ethical distributor of prescription medications. Because seals like this can be easily replicated online without authorization, in 2014, the NABP also became the registry operator for the .pharmacy domain. This means that in addition to having the VIPPS logo, any website that ends in .pharmacy has been certified as a safe and legitimate online pharmacy by the NABP. To check to see if the pharmacy you’re using is approved, simply test it out by typing in the pharmacy’s web address but replacing the usual .com ending with .pharmacy. For example, typing www.drsfostersmith.com will direct you to the same website that typing www.drsfostersmith.pharmacy will. This means that you’ve chosen a pharmacy that has been certified to be legitimate by the NABP.
Choose a pharmacy that requires authorization from your veterinarian before dispensing medication for your pet
Under the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act, no online pet pharmacy can sell veterinary prescription drugs without a valid prescription from a licensed veterinarian. There are certainly many products out there that are available without a prescription, such as joint supplements, certain flea and tick preventatives, or even probiotics. However, true prescription medications are sold by prescription only for your pet’s safety. They require a veterinarian to diagnose the condition that needs treatment and monitor your pet’s response to the medication prescribed. If an online pet pharmacy offers to send you prescription medication without the hassle of getting your veterinarian’s authorization, this raises some very bright red flags that the pharmacy you’re using is not reputable.
Ensure that the online pharmacy you’re using is located within the United States
Before making a purchase, make sure that the pharmacy you’re using is licensed by your state board of pharmacy, has a US state-licensed pharmacist available to answer your questions, and has a street address within the United States. These are all strong signs that the pharmacy you’re using is reputable and abides by the laws and standards of safety and quality that govern licensed pharmacies.
If a pharmacy makes an offer that seems too good to be true, check the NABP’s list of not recommended sites before making a purchase.
There are certainly illegitimate pharmacies out there that have avoided notice and don’t appear on this list, so this is not foolproof, but it’s a good place to check if you’re worried that the pharmacy you’re thinking of using might not be operating legally.
For a pharmacy you know is always reputable, you can also use our online pharmacy, which ships medications from a NABP approved provider that sources the highest quality medications directly from their manufacturers, ensuring that they are always shipping quality, authentic, and most importantly safe medications for your pet.
Wishing you health and happiness,
The CVH Team