Consumer guide to purchasing medication on-line

   In today's economy it is understandable that consumers are looking for ways to save money, however, before rushing to what may seem like the best deal, you and your pet would be well served to research several other issues besides price. Have you stopped to ask your self a few questions before you send away for that medication?
Is the medication really going to cost me less?
Every veterinarian has different overhead and pricing structures, so pricing of medication can vary from practice to practice.  We have structured our pharmacy pricing such that in most cases (especially heartworm and flea/tick medication) our cost is either the same or even less than the most popular online pharmacies when all factors are considered.  Product manufacturers almost always have veterinary exclusive promotions ($5 to $10 rebate off 12 doses of heartworm preventative or 1 to 2 doses of flea/tick product free with 6 pack purchase) that often brings our price lower.  Depending on the amount of medication you are purchasing online you may also incur shipping costs which you will not incur when buying locally.  Before you purchase online, be sure to ask a staff member for our pricing on the exact product you are comparing (same size and brand) so we can make you aware of any manufacturer offers that will usually result in the lowest price and save you money!
Isn't the medication I'm ordering the same, and just as effective?
For safety and liability purposes, most manufacturers only distribute their products through ethical veterinary channels.  This means that the medication you get from the veterinary pharmacy is usually obtained though one or more middlemen.  The more the medication is shipped around and the more it is stored under varying conditions, the greater the chance that it can be exposed to improper storage conditions leading to inactivation or decreased effectiveness.  Many cases have been documented of medications being imported from foreign countries, with packaging in kilograms instead of pounds, or even with completely counterfeit product contained inside.  Because of these concerns, the major manufacturers maintain a policy of only guaranteeing their products when bought from a licensed veterinarian.  If the product does not work, or if your pet has an adverse reaction, most of the companies will refund or relpace the product and will pay for patient treament if it is necessary.  If you ever require this type of customer support, the companies will ask for proof of purchase, and if your medication was not obtained through veterinary channels they have a policy that the guarantee will be null and void.  BEWARE - the online pharmacies state that they guarantee the products too - but read the fine print and you will see that they are only saying that they guarantee that the product is the same - it does not cover treatment failure or complications.
But I want to save money by ordering a generic product.
For some products, generic equivalents are an effective, cost-saving tool.  Unfortuntately for others, the generics simply are not very effective.  When it comes to preventing serious diseases such as heartworm disease and Lyme disease, efficacy of a medication should be the primary concern.  We recommend and carry the products that we do, not simply because we sell them (we could purchase and sell any product the online places sell), but because we have researched the products and found the ones that are proven to be most safe and effective.  For example, very few  flea and tick products are effective against the deer tick (the tick that causes Lyme disease).  We could sell less expensive flea and tick products, but then the pets would not receive the best protection against disease.
Who wins and who loses when you purchase online?
If you can find the medication at a substantial savings, we'd really like to know because sometimes the representatives from the manufacturer can help us with this situation and we understand you don't want to pay alot more for your pet's medication.  The truth is though, that in most cases the cost is usually less than online, or no more than a dollar or two different.  Is it really worth putting your pet's health at risk for the sake of a couple dollars, or even worse, to unknowingly pay more just because the slick TV advertising says you'll save lot of money?  The other thing to realize is that when you can buy your medication from your local veterinary hospital at comparable prices, your dollars remain local and help to pay the overhead expenses of a local small business (i.e. the salaries of employees who live in your community).  When people purchase medications online that could be bought at the veterinary hospital for the same or less cost, there is less money for the practice to invest in updating eqipment and paying staff salaries.  As a result, the other prices charged by the hospital must go up to make up the difference.  In the long run you wind up paying higher prices for veterinary care and the only one who benefits is the shareholders of the online pharmacies.
Pricing example (our price and web price as  of 12/3/11)

                   Heartgard plus 51-100 lbs (brown)

 

 

           “most trusted”

       online pharmacy           vs.          Us

 

                                                           $88.99 - $10 veterinarian

                                                                          only rebate =

 

            $80.98                                  vs.       Final cost = $78.99

 

                                                                       $2.00 savings!          

 

             Plus full safety guarantee and product support !