Protect Yourself and Your Pet:
A. W. A. R. E .
If you’ve ever searched online for prescription pet medicines, you’ve no doubt seen eye-catching, attention-grabbing claims. They sound convincing in their promises of convenience and lower prices. But are these claims always true?
Affordable pet prescriptions!
Pet meds at discount prices!
No prescription required!
Your best source for pet meds!
Internet sites that sell pet medicines can be reputable pharmacies. However, other Internet sites are fronts for businesses breaking Federal, State and sometimes, International laws. Illegal online pharmacies may sell medicines that are counterfeit, outdated, mislabeled, incorrectly formulated or improperly made or stored. These medicines may not contain the actual drug, may contain contaminants or the incorrect amount of drug, may not work as well due to age or being stored in conditions that were too hot, cold or humid, and may not have the proper directions for use. If you are unhappy with ordered products, illegal online pet pharmacies may fraudulently leave you with no way to get your money back. If you still want to purchase your pet’s prescription medicines online, remember you can protect yourself by doing your homework and being online pharmacy A.W.A.R.E.
A–Ask Your Veterinarian
Before you purchase online, talk with your veterinarian! Your veterinarian wants what is best for you and your pet. Ask your veterinarian questions including, “Do you trust this Internet pharmacy site?” ” Have you ever worked with this pharmacy?” “Have other clients used this website?” “If so, what were their experiences?”
W–Watch for Red Flags
When buying from online pharmacies, keep an eye out for red flags. Be careful if the…
- Website does not require veterinary prescriptions for prescription medicines.
Websites that sell prescription veterinary medicines without valid veterinary prescriptions are breaking the law. Under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, a pharmacy can’t sell you a veterinary prescription medicine without a valid prescription or other type of order from a licensed veterinarian. Online questionnaires or consults don’t take the place of valid veterinary prescriptions. Sites that sell medicines without requiring valid veterinary prescriptions rob you and your pet of the protection provided by a veterinary physical exam.
- Website has no licensed pharmacist available to answer questions.
Can someone answer your questions about your pet’s medicines?
- Website does not list its physical business address, phone number or other contact information.
If something goes wrong with your order, can you get in contact with them?
- Website is not based in the United States.
If an out-of-country site fraudulently takes your money, there’s not much the U.S. government can do to help you get your money back.
- Website is not licensed by the State Board of Pharmacy where the business is based.
If the site operates in the United States, check the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) website to see if the pharmacy is properly licensed: http://www.nabp.net/consumers/board-ofpharmacy-contacts/.
- Website does not protect your personal information.
Keep yourself safe from identity theft! Make sure the site you use is secure.
- Website’s prices are dramatically lower than your veterinarian’s or other website’s prices.
If it seems too good to be true, then it probably is.
- Website ships you medicines you didn’t order or that look very different from what your pet normally takes.
Don’t give these medicines to your pet! Contact the website immediately!
A–Always Check for Site Accreditation
In addition to following Federal and State licensing and inspection requirements, in 2009, the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) created a voluntary accreditation program called Veterinary-Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites (Vet-VIPPS). Vet-VIPPS accredited online pet pharmacies:
- are appropriately licensed in the states from which they ship drugs
- have successfully completed a 19-point review and online survey
- undergo yearly VIPPS review and reaccreditation
- undergo NABP on-site surveys every three years.
Vet-VIPPS accredited pharmacies must meet other criteria, including protecting client confidentiality, strict quality assurance and making sure prescription orders are valid.
R–Report Problems and Suspicious Online Pet Pharmacies
If your pet has a problem with a medicine purchased online (for example, a reaction to the medicine or the medicine not working), first contact the medicine’s maker. To report problems directly to the Food and Drug Administration Center for Veterinary Medicine, call 1-888-FDA-VETS. For a copy of the reporting form (FDA Form 1932a) and for more information on how to report problems, visit the following direct link:
Protect yourself, your pets, and others! Don?t fall victim to illegal online pet pharmacies. Report suspicious online pet pharmacy sites to the FDA and the NABP at:
E–Educate Yourself about Online Pet Pharmacies
The best defense you have against illegal online pet pharmacies is education. Do your homework and be online pet pharmacy A.W.A.R.E. before you purchase your pet’s medicines online. An informed consumer is an empowered consumer. For more information about purchasing pet medicines from online pet pharmacies, visit the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Center for Veterinary Medicine’s website at: www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary,
or call CVM at: (240) 276-9300.
For additional information, please visit the following websites:
*FDA Center for Veterinary US Department of Health and Human Services (08/11)