Online Medication Diversion

Online Medication Diversion

Did you know?:  Online pharmacies are not permitted to purchase many prescription medications directly from manufacturers.

So how is it that you can find just about any medication on any major online pharmacy?

The answer:  Medication Diversion

Diversion of medication is not illegal and occurs in the veterinary world when a manufacturer approved purchaser sells large amounts of prescription medication to online pharmacies.  Many manufacturers such as Zoetis, Boehringer Ingelheim, and Elanco have policies in place to only sell to veterinary clinics and hospitals that will prescribe said medication with a direct and valid veterinary-client-patient relationship.

The intent of the aforementioned policies is to ensure that these medications (many of which need to be monitored to ensure correct dosing/consumption) are prescribed by a veterinarian with knowledge of a specific pet’s overall medical history (including information such as diagnostic results that would prevent a pet from being a candidate for certain medications).

While there are several reputable online pharmacies that take advantage of purchasing through a manufacturer authorized purchaser such as a veterinarian, there are several risks to patients for pet owners to consider when purchasing medication online as this introduces counterfeit medications and other issues into the equation:

  1. The drug being purchased may contain a different quantity of the original active ingredient
  2. Could contain entirely different active ingredients
  3. Could contain toxic ingredients
  4. May bear forged manufacturers data on packaging
  5. May have been completely repackaged
  6. May not have been transported or stored properly
  7. May not have been produced under conditions that conform with Good Manufacturing Practice

Imagine this situation: An individual authorized to purchase prescription medication from manufacturers decides that he or she wants to sell the medication to an online pharmacy.  This process is completely legal and the individual could turn profit from that endeavor.  However, if the individual gets greedy he/she may turn to counterfeit medication producers to sell back to online pharmacies at a greater profit.  THAT process is very illegal.

Another scenario: A counterfeit medication operation decides to take their services online to sell potentially hazardous medications directly to pet owners.

If your pet receives a medication that has been counterfeit, he/she may experience side effects, allergic reactions, or worsening of the medical condition you are attempting to treat.

Did you know?: Interpol has launched 6 separate operations consisting of several phases resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars worth of counterfeit medication.  The most recent published phase of these operations was Operation Pangea VIII in 2015 which saw 115 participating countries resulting in over $80 million estimated value of counterfeit medications seized.  During this operation, 2,410 websites were taken offline. Read the different operations here.

Depending which online pharmacy you use could also have an impact on product guarantees.  We see this often with heartworm disease.  Purchasing online voids manufacturer guarantees on a large number of medications.  Some online pharmacies are offering their own product guarantees in the manufacturers stead, however other online pharmacies offer no guarantee whatsoever!  Purchasing medication with us provides you with the original manufacturer guarantee which is generally the best when it comes to being reimbursed or having medical costs covered should issues arise.

 

So how do you know you are purchasing the real deal?

The answer to that is very simple.  Purchase from your veterinarian or your veterinarian’s manufacturer approved online store.  Oftentimes pet owners find it convenient to have medications delivered to their doorstep and believe that online pharmacies not associated with their pet’s doctor provide a much cheaper alternative to buying directly from their vet.  The vast majority of the time, this is extremely untrue.  Our online store is priced to compete with online pharmacies and we even beat those prices in house an enormous amount of the time.  The kicker?  You are buying the real deal.  Not a sugar pill, and not a medication mixed with highway paint to give it the yellow tint…

Ensuring you do your research on your pet’s medication can help you avoid horrible consequences with counterfeit medications.

Check out these pages for more information about diversion and the dangers of counterfeit medication:

Zoetis Diversion Policy

Boehringer Ingelheim Counterfeit Medication Warning

Veterinary Information Network Post on Repackaging Medication by Large Online Pharmacies