E-commerce is a wonderful thing. Amazing deals, fabulous variety, and all kinds of unique, special things can be found online with just the click of a mouse!
But, while it is great, there are some unfortunate places on the world wide web of commerce where unscrupulous activity occurs.
What kind of unscrupulous activity you might ask? You have probably already experienced some of this activity yourself in the form of viruses, trojan horses, malware, and crimeware that attempt to hop onto your computer!
Recently, many people have been experiencing a different kind of a safety breach! This breach is in the form of fraudulent pharmaceutical offers.
A person who needs to get their prescription filled every month for a drug might find that there are companies online that will ship the said “drug” to their home at a discounted price.
This sounds pretty great for anyone! Cheaper and also convenient (with home delivery) certainly is tempting. And these offers have also expanded into the pet drug market.
Sadly, many of the sites that offer these discounted pet drugs are actually doing so outside of the law. And the drugs a person gets may or may not actually be legitimate.
International or stateside companies will offer drugs that do not always have the proper ingredients that the drug is supposed to have.
Basically, a huge, money-making, counterfeit form of drug pushing is occurring, where people around the world have discovered that it is very easy to build a pharmaceutical website and offer unregulated pills to people, especially in the U.S., that are very discounted but are not actually effective.
Some of these drugs can be completely ineffective, and some of them can actually be harmful for the pet who takes.
What does the FDA have to say about this?
Here are some of the FDA’s findings:
- Some of the pharmaceutical companies online have been caught selling expired pet care drugs.
- Others have been caught selling absolutely counterfeit drugs.
- Some are selling drugs that are not even approved by the FDA (whether counterfeit in their substance or not).
- Some companies have been found selling prescription drugs without authorization of an actual prescription.
- Some foreign companies have been found to “prescribe” a drug for an animal after having just a questionnaire filled out. This is dangerous because prescription drugs given to an animal without need can hurt the animal.
These facts beg to question the legitimacy of many online pharmacies that offer a supposedly good deal to their customers.
One man writes of his experience with a veterinarian overseas, who showed him four identical looking drugs, all labeled with the same name and ingredient description. The man then described the actual contents of the drugs. They were all completely different. Only one of the four was actually a legitimate drug (the original!).
You can imagine how impossible it would be to test whether a drug you might receive from an online seller has the ingredients it should. Sellers of counterfeit drugs know this and unfortunately capitalize on the fact in order to make money.
What To Be Especially Wary Of
It is possible to find legitimate pet pharmacies online, it is just very difficult to discern the good from the bad.
The greatest danger of online drug purchases is the loss of the dynamic between a vet, you as the client, and your pet.
Many drugs should be administered with the knowledge and recommendation of your veterinarian. Some animals can only handle certain kinds of drugs, and your vet is trained in this. For this reason, it is very important to never buy a prescription-only drug online without a prescription from your vet!
In addition, you want to especially avoid buying NSAIDS or heartworm pills online. Drugs like these need to be given to your pet only with the confirmative analysis that a blood test gives.
These drugs are potentially dangerous if given to the wrong animal. Risking your pet’s life is not worth it!
When to Buy Drugs Online
There are a few instances in which you might be able to safely get your pet the medications he needs online.
Some pharmacies are Vet-VIPPS accredited. This should indicate the drugs you are buying are legitimate and have been stored and manufactured properly. And real online pharmacies will always require a prescription from a veterinarian prior to filling any orders for drugs.
All in all, however, your best bet is going to be purchasing your pet’s drugs through your veterinarian, who will ensure that you are buying drugs through reputable companies that manufacture to strict standards, comply with all federal and state requirements, and quality assurances.
Pet owners should be very careful about deals that seem too good to be true, because they often are. When it comes to your pet, don’t risk potentially saving a few dollars as the expense of their health and well-being.
Just remember, when it comes to our pet’s health and our own, safety is first!