How You Can Reduce Your Veterinarian’s Bill Provided He Cooperates!

This is about prescriptions written by American veterinarians and it is not hot off the press news. It is a reminder of how pet medicines are dispensed. We know that in nearly 100% of cases your veterinarian’s prescription is dispensed by the vet’s clinic.  The dispensing of medicines is kept in-house for obvious reasons: financial profit.  You can’t blame veterinarians for that but it is totally different to how human medicines are dispensed (at least that is the case in the UK).

Target PetRx

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However, in America, a couple of large supermarket chains, Targets and Kroger, provide a pet version of their original $4 generics program. The pet program is called PetRx and works in the same way that the original program does. I am sure you have heard about it. I’d like someone to comment if they can and tell me if you use it.

The drugs that these huge supermarkets provide are generic.  They’re not branded and therefore they’re much cheaper.  If you’re able to convince your veterinarian to provide you with a prescription then you can go along to one of these stores and purchase generic versions of the drugs at a significant discount.

In fact, as I understand it, the PetRx program allows a customer to obtain a months supply of medication for $4.  If I have that wrong then please tell me.  It seems an extraordinarily low price and if your cat is on repeat prescriptions for a chronic condition then I would have thought that substantial savings could be made.

The problem is that a vet is highly unlikely to hand over a prescription to his customer (I have never asked my vet whether he would!). For this reason federal draft legislation was discussed.  It is called the Fairness to Pet Owners Act 2011 (“to provide pet owners the ability to receive a copy of veterinary prescriptions, and for other purposes”).  The Bill was debated by a House of Representatives committee.  Quite naturally the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) fought the bill because they saw the potential for their members’ profits to be eroded. Proceeds from prescriptions amount to about 20% of a vet’s income. The AVMA won and the Bill was killed off but as I understand it, it has been reintroduced on FEB 10, 2014. The vets are still fighting this bill.

Are your able to persuade your veterinarian to provide you with a copy of the prescription? Have you tried this? Or is this a fanciful notion? If so and if you have succeeded then you probably know that what you do is to find out if any of the Targets or Krogers in your area offer the program and then to check whether the medicines required by your cat come in $4 generics. If you are able to get over these hurdles you can then provide your local store’s pharmacy with a prescription and voilà you’ve shaved some costs from your cat’s medicine bill.

8 thoughts on “How You Can Reduce Your Veterinarian’s Bill Provided He Cooperates!”

  1. Almost 18 years ago I bought my current house where I brought the 6 cats I had with me then. There was a vet two blocks away and I thought great, how convenient, but she was/is just a bean-counter, terrible at PR with even worse business acumen. As I collected more cats and sought to fill prescriptions elsewhere, she wouldn’t cooperate and actually increased her charges as I began to visit other vets who were better practitioners as well as sympathetic to clients’ costs, and actually more savvy because a person with 14 cats will be in more often than most others. So now I drive almost 22 miles round trip and take 2, sometimes 3 cats at a time. That’s where the convenience of the local pharmacy is more of a factor, and they understand. I also understand that part of their income is providing medications, but I think the better vets don’t make that a point of contention – they are (and should be) most concerned that the patient gets what they need when they need it, and in building a trusting relationship with the client. They certainly aren’t of the mind to lose a client, all the pets he brings and his good will by being greedy in the short term only to lose big time in the long run. One of the first questions fellow pet owners ask is, “Where do you take yours, and why?”.

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    • Well said Albert. I agree with your analysis. If vets protect their business by not giving out a copy of the prescription they are thinking short term and will lose clients in the long term as you demonstrate. If vets think about providing the best service possible and focus on animal welfare they’ll do well.

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    • I loved the way you put that, Albert. You’re absolutely right. The greedy vets hurt themselves more by worshiping money instead of being concerned about the welfare of their patients.

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    • Thanks Serbella for that. This is very American concept and I love it. In the UK we don’t even think about this sort of thing. We expect to get all our cat meds from the vet.

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      • You’re welcome, Michael. I thought this was crazy when I first heard of it, but after I did some research and made some calls I discovered that it really was on and up and up. I’ve been lucky in that I’ve never had to get medication continuously for my furkids, just a dose here and there to clear up very minor problems. And I never even thought about the availability of cat meds in the UK.

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      • Oh yeah, I’ve picked up many prescriptions for my cats from the pharmacy – which charges about the same as the vet (most vets) and what they’d cost online (minus postage). They ask for the pets’ first and last name, and birthday as if they were human. It’s very common. If there’s any question or concern, they’ll consult with the vet like they would any other doctor.

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        • Thanks Albert. I didn’t realise it was that common. Shame the vets are fighting the draft legislation. Obviously some vets are more relaxed about giving out a prescription than others.

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