Purchasing veterinary medications such as fleas, ticks, and heartworm preventatives online can offer significant time and cost savings, but how can you be sure that you’re buying your products from a legit source and not counterfeit products that may harm your pet’s health Prior making your order from an online pharmacy, ask your veterinarian if there is a pharmacy they recommend. Also, talk to your veterinarian about the clinical signs or side effects to expect your animal to show in case there is a problem with the medication. Ensure you know what to look for and what to do if you see it. Administering medication without the help of a veterinarian is not a smart way to save money. Mistakes can range from giving the wrong dosage to using the wrong medication or, even worst, giving dangerous combinations of drugs. Your veterinarian will be glad to help.
The American Veterinary Medical Association encourages veterinarians to honor a client's request for a written prescription rather than dispensing the medication at the veterinarian’s office. Clients should have the option of filling prescriptions at any pharmacy in accordance with the AVMA Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics. But how can you be more confident that you are getting your pet’s medications from a legitimate and licensed online pharmacy that has the best interest of our pets at heart?
One solution is to look for the Veterinary-Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites (Vet-VIPPS) seal of approval from the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP). To help weed out unscrupulous online pet pharmacies, the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) created a voluntary accreditation program called Vet-VIPPS (Veterinary-Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites). These online pharmacies are state and federally-licensed, undergo yearly reviews and re-accreditation processes, and NABP-conducted on-site surveys every three years.
To search for an accredited online pet pharmacy, click https://nabp.pharmacy/programs/vipps/vipps-accredited-pharmacies-list/ The AVMA Position Statement on Internet Pharmacies recognizes the VIPPS seal as identifying lawful online pharmacies. "It gives the prescriber and the patient/client some assurance that they're dealing with a legitimate, licensed firm," With that said; one could think that Some pharmacy websites could display fake certification logos and be able to sell counterfeit, unapproved, and potentially dangerous medications to consumers. As a continued effort to protect consumers and their pets, the Vet-Vipps program was merged and replaced by the NABP .pharmacy verified websites program.
.pharmacy is a program that verifies safe and legitimate pharmacy websites. It also develops a set of strict standards and policies with NAPB and the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) to ensure online sites are legal and appropriately regulated. The goal is to protect people and animals from potentially dangerous medications and to give you a peace of mind when buying online: Protect yourself and your pet by looking for .pharmacy in the website address/URL or by checking the .pharmacy website registry to make sure that your pet’s online pharmacy is accredited by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP). Simple as that!
The FDA has the following suggestions for protecting yourself when purchasing pet medications online, using the acronym AWARE:
• Ask your veterinarian if they know anything about the site you plan to use. • Watch for red flags, such as not requiring a prescription, not listing an address and phone number, or not having a pharmacist available to answer questions.
• Always check for site accreditation, such as from Vet-VIPPS. • Report problems and suspicious online pharmacies. They suggest reporting any problems first to the manufacturer and then to the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine.
• Educate yourself about online pharmacies. If you receive a shipped medication and the package is damaged or appears to have been allowed to get too hot or too cold, contact the pharmacy immediately and notify them of the problem. If you are unsure if the medication is safe to use in that condition, contact your veterinarian. If you have concerns or complaints about a pharmacy's practices or the quality of its products, you can report the pharmacy to your state board of pharmacy and also to the FDA.
Not every pharmacy, without approval from VIPPS or PCAB, sells counterfeit or dangerous products. The approval process is costly and takes time; not all pharmacies can afford it. In the absence of reliable information, however, these accreditations offer peace of mind when buying veterinary medications for your dog from someone other than your veterinarian. Another consideration you should take when buying medications online is that an online purchase may invalidate the manufacturer’s warranty. For more information on avoiding online pharmacy scams, I encourage you to visit the website BeSafeRx launched by the FDA.