WASHINGTON (WUSA) - QUESTION:
Are all online pet pharmacies illegal and are they selling bad meds?
Not true! The keyword here: "all."
Carmen Catizone- Executive Director of National Association of Boards of Pharmacy
Dr. Martine Hartogensis- Deputy Director of the Office of Surveillance and Compliance in FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine
Viewer Linda Williams wanted to buy her two-and-a-half-year-old shitzu Bengi a flea treatment online.
She found a website that looked credible, but when Linda tried to check out, the order would not go through without a prescription from Bengi's vet. So Linda made an appointment for her "fur baby."
After the appointment, the owner of the vet office said they did not approve orders from online companies because all online pet pharms are illegal adn sell "boot-legged" medication that are "often out of date and not safe."
Linda was skeptical ad put Verify up to the fact-checking task.
The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy has been checking the online accreditation and reliability of internet pharma since 1995. For years the non-profit has been weeding out and shutting down illegal and rogue online pharmacies.
The Pharmacy group has reviewed 11,500 sites and found that 96 percent did not comply with state or federal laws. One to two thousand of them were illegal online pet pharmacies.
"When you talk about veterinary drugs, that's truly a dog eat dog world," Carmen Catizone, Executive Director at National Association of Boards of Pharmacy said. "Vets discourage the online sites because veterinarians like to sell the medications themselves to patients."
Catizone and the Food and Drug Association have worked closely to single-out illegal and rogue sites.
"We would immediately classify a site as illegal if it's not licensed with a state in the United States, if it's offering medications without a prescription, if it has a questionnaire or cyberspace consultation as the basis for the doctor-patient relationship and if its shipping or delivering to patients non-FDA approved drugs," Catizone said. "That would immediately garner a site illegal."
A rogue site would be a drug manufacturer from another country selling in the U.S. The website has contact information within the United States in case a patient has a problem with their medication.
Under Catizone, the NABP has identified hundreds of safe, reputable places to buy pet medication online. Puppy and kitty parents need to just look for the ".pharmacy" URL that confirms a site's been vetted and verified.
"If it's on our site, if we say it's a legal site, we can stand behind it," Catizone said.
Dr. Martine Hartogensis of the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine agrees; there are legal and safe online pet pharms.
"There are reputable online pharmacies," Hartogensis said. "The first question you should ask is if you're buying a prescription drug do [the online pharmacies] ask for a prescription?"
Even though many are legal and safe, she says you should have a veterinarian involved as much as possible.
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