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Veterinarians and Pharmacists Agree Pharmacists to Play an Increasing Role in the Dispensing of Veterinary Medications

RHINELANDER, Wis., Oct. 8, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- In a historic October 2, 2012 meeting with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in Washington, D.C., veterinary experts and pharmacists agreed, affirming the practice of pharmacists filling prescriptions for dogs, cats and other animals.

The precedent for pharmacists filling veterinary prescriptions has been set for over fifty years, as veterinarians have routinely relied on local pharmacies to fill certain client's prescriptions.  That precedent was strongly bolstered several years ago when the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) endorsed Vet-VIPPS certification for online pharmacies.   Veterinary Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Site is a certification created by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) as the standard for veterinary pharmacies.  Vet-VIPPS requires that pharmacists, not veterinarians, dispense pet medications.

Dr. Race Foster, of Drs. Foster and Smith pet supplies and pharmacy, said this single decision by the AVMA has helped contribute to a wide acceptance by pet owners of pharmacists filling veterinary prescriptions. According to one recent study, some 6,000,000 pet prescriptions were filled in 2011 in a non-veterinary-office pharmacy. 

"This is revolutionary in the way pets are cared for," Dr. Foster stated.

Dr. Foster supports the AVMA's position on Vet-VIPPS and that pharmacists are qualified to dispense veterinary drugs.  Dr. Foster hopes the already wide acceptance by veterinarians of this burgeoning trend in the dispensing of pet medications will lead to more affordable medications available to pet owners.  Agreeing with the AVMA, he is also an advocate of pharmacists receiving foundational and continuing education regarding the dispensing of pet medications.

At the FTC workshop on October 2, Dr. Douglas Aspros, President of the AVMA, in a comment that clearly supports the role of pharmacists in filling pet prescriptions said, "We stand behind the AVMA's principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics which encourages veterinarians to honor a client's request for a written prescription."  He added, "The AVMA is supportive of the client's right to choose where they have their prescriptions filled."

Also on hand was Dr. Paul Pion, a veterinary cardiologist and founder of the Veterinary Information Network (VIN).  Dr. Pion commented, "Veterinarians are all in favor of choice and helping their clients," and, "I think most of us," (as veterinarians), "would be happy if medications were available elsewhere," and, "The public should have a choice."

Dr. Elaine Blythe, an educator whose PhD is in Pharmacology, spelled out the procedures and availability of pharmacist's continuing education in the field of veterinary medicine. Dr. Foster complimented Dr. Blythe on her academic efforts and fully supports the concept of continuing education for pharmacists who work in the field of veterinary medicine dispensing.

Also asked to participate by the FTC was Deborah Press Dubow, an attorney representing ASPCA.  Ms. Dubow provided information regarding the need for affordable healthcare in the field of veterinary medicine. An issue she emphasized was that low prices for pet medications leads to better veterinary care and increased shelter adoption rates.

Dr. Foster sees this workshop as a historic meeting, providing a more clear direction for the future of veterinary care. The vast majority who attended the workshop recognized the role pharmacists have played, should play and will play in the future of veterinary medicine. Their role is seen as especially relevant in the dispensing of long-term therapeutic drugs such as prescription anti-inflammatories for arthritis and medications for heartworm control.

Over-the-Counter preventives such as those for flea and tick were also discussed. Some drug manufacturers restrict their distribution, and the distribution of prescription medications only to veterinarians.  This practice directly contradicts the AVMA's endorsement of Vet-VIPPS, which not only affirms the role of pharmacists in the dispensing of pet medications online, but also requires it.

The FTC has an interest in how and why veterinary drugs are currently being restricted in distribution by drug manufacturers.

With the acceptance of the role of pharmacists growing, Dr Foster believes that as much as 50% of all heartworm medications and arthritis care drugs will now be dispensed by pharmacies, rather than veterinary hospitals. 

Participants at the workshop strongly agreed that the consumer should have a choice of where to fill their prescriptions once a valid veterinary-client-patient-relationship (VCPR) has been established and a drug prescribed. Drug companies should recognize and support pet owner rights, and make veterinary medications available to pharmacies as well as veterinarians.

Pet owners should be aware that common veterinary drugs are available now online and at retail pharmacies. In the future, veterinary drugs should become more widely available.

Dr. Foster provided a caution to pet owners regarding the practice followed by a minority of veterinarians, of forcing a client to sign a waiver in order to receive a written pet prescription, a practice he opposes.  He believes that under no circumstances should a pet owner sign a waiver of liability from a veterinarian for a prescription without having it first reviewed by an attorney.

Most veterinarians do not require waivers for routine pet medication prescriptions.  The practice is not consistent with normal veterinary practice unless drugs are experimental or being prescribed against the label directions. According to Dr. Race Foster, we do not sign waivers for common drugs prescribed for humans and should not in veterinary medicine either.  Additionally, pharmacists do not ask for signed waivers when prescriptions are transferred to another pharmacy, or back to animal hospitals.

Dr. Foster encourages all pet owners to recognize the importance of regular veterinary visits to their veterinarian. There is no substitute for regular wellness exams. Dr. Foster and others at the workshop also recognize and support the emerging field of veterinary pharmacy. According to Dr. Foster, "High quality animal health is best achieved when a partnership exists between the pharmacists and veterinarians."

The following links will allow you to see videos of the proceedings at the FTC workshop.

Pet Medications Session 1 of 4

Pet medications Session 2 of 4

Pet Medications Session 3 of 4

Pet Medications Session 4 of 4

About Drs. Foster and Smith

Drs. Foster and Smith is the nation's leading veterinary-owned pet supplier, providing pet owners with veterinary advice and quality pet supplies at affordable prices for over 29 years. Since their modest beginnings in the early 1980s operating four veterinary clinics in northern Wisconsin, Dr. Race Foster and Dr. Marty Smith have become the nation's foremost authorities on pet care and education, earning a strong reputation for the scope of their veterinary expertise on dogs, cats, fish, birds, reptiles, pond life, and small animals.

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SOURCE Drs. Foster and Smith