HomeVeterinariansShould it be Mandatory for All Veterinarians to Write Prescriptions for their Clients?

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Should it be Mandatory for All Veterinarians to Write Prescriptions for their Clients? — 13 Comments

  1. interesting. last fall lena’s abscess in his back flared up and he had to have a prescription for gabapentin. it worked so well that the vet authorized several more bottles of it for him. i totally support vets doing this – so i’m shocked that this does not happen in all the states. thank you for always being on the ‘cutting edge’ of all this data.

  2. I think the law should be worded differently. In this day and age even doctors often don’t write prescriptions, they simply call them in to the pharmacy. What the wording should be is that the vets should be required to dial the prescription or write the prescription to an outside pharmacy at owner’s request.

    I’ve had a lot of experience with prescription drugs when my previous cat, Masha, had IBD and heart disease (she went into congestive heart failure within a week of starting prednisolone for her IBD, it turned out she had a defective heart valve). When I mentioned to the vet that the drugs cost me over 200 a month, she herself suggested that I use an outside pharmacy. I was already using a compounding pharmacy for budesonide to which we switched since I wanted a caplet rather than liquid and human size tablets were too big, but I got her heart medications at a local Target store which had a standard $8 a month for generic drugs (like human heart medications my cat was on), they also had pet drugs. The clinic was calling in the medications for me which significantly reduced my cost.

    So IMHO – the law should be reworded to make it required to write or dial the prescription if the pet owner requests it.

  3. I agree with Dee totally that IF a client requests an Rx the veterinarian should provide one as the ONLY mandate. Here is Florida a veterinarian must provide a written Rx if the client requests it. That is the only mandate here in this state. That takes just a few minutes to provide that Rx which can be filled at a local pharmacy at a fraction of the cost.

  4. We need to look at the bigger longer picture here. The USA is one of the few “civilized” countries that does not regulate the price of life saving drugs needed by our senior citizens and for the extra-label use of these same generic and trade name human drugs for our pets. Why? Ask your federal legislators. It takes my time to accurately record and I call the pharmacies to fill these scripts. I am responsible for the drug to be used in a safe and efficacious manner. I do charge a script fee but I also tell my clients where to get drugs like doxcycline and fluoxetine the cheapest from our local pharmacies (not online) Whether I sell the a pet’s drug at the clinic or not, it would take my time to write these mandatory scripts (even if i fill them). That time has to be paid for somewhere in the services I provide. If a script does not change I sell lifetime drugs at 15-20 percent over my cost and no script fee. As a pet owner I would be more concerned with human generic and pet drug availability and exorbitant drug price increases by the manufacturers than getting mandatory scripts from a vet.

  5. No, not mandatory. But, any vet should provide a prescription upon request.

    Even more so, vets should be required to have continuing educational courses regarding medication costs and the blend between human and animal meds.

    For example, Amoxicillin is a common antibiotic given to humans, animals, and fish. Why should I pay a vet $75 for a 2 week supply of 250 mg for my cat when I can get the same from my pharmacy for $7? Better yet, Fishmox is the same antibiotic but used in fish tanks. It doesn’t require a prescription and costs pennies.

    I believe that many vets know all of this but don’t divulge.
    I believe in complete and honest disclosure.

  6. I can’t recall an instance where a medication hasn’t been given to us at the clinic, so we have never had this experience.

  7. The problem is the way the law is written. If it said, “Veterinarians must provide a written prescription upon request,” that would be fine. But no, the law requires a written prescription for every drug, every time, even if the client doesn’t want one, whether or not human pharmacies carry the drug (many veterinary drug companies sell to *vets only*), and even if the client is going to simply hand the prescription right back so the the vet clinic can fill it. It may only take a minute or two to write a prescription, but multiply that by 30 or 50 or 100 or more per day in a busy practice, the time adds up quickly. And no calling in prescriptions either… it has to be on paper. Who is going to pay for all that? The clients… because prices will have to increase for other services.

    Another problem is that human pharmacies screw up… a lot. Mistakes are one thing. But horror stories abound about pharmacies DELIBERATELY changing doses or even substituting different drugs. For instance, the human dose of thyroid hormone is usually less than 0.2 mg. But dogs metabolize the drug much differently, and may take up to 0.8 mg or more. The pharmacist changes it because he knows better than the vet.

    The thing is, the vast majority of veterinarians will already write a prescription if requested; it is part of veterinary ethics to do so, and not to charge for it. For the few bad apples out there… you are at liberty to find another veterinarian you like better.

    Compliance is another big issue. It is hard enough to get clients to give the meds to their pet as directed when they walk out the door with it. If they walk out the door with a prescription, then call or visit several pharmacies only to find out they don’t carry the drug, and oops now it’s Saturday afternoon and the vet clinic is closed, and the pet now has to go without the meds until (a) the clinic is open and (b) they have time to go back and get the prescription or even (c) remember to call the clinic to have the prescription faxed to the pharmacy, but the client doesn’t know the pharmacy’s fax number and now clinic staff have to spend time hunting it down… kinda ridiculous, and animals will suffer.

    The real key lies in who is pushing this law: Walmart, a chain that (coincidentally) has a pharmacy in every store. Think they give a rat’s patoot about you OR your pet? Enough said?

    • Thanks Jean for putting some meat on this discussion and taking the time to comment. The info that you provide is valuable and sways the argument towards not making prescriptions mandatory. It provides insights that can only come from a practicing vet.

  8. We are blessed with our veterinarians who do everything they can to help us with prescriptions when necessary. They totally understand financial constraints especially when dealing with chronically ill pets.

    Michael, today more and more drugs that are stocked for humans are the very same drugs that are now being prescribed for cats and dogs. In fact, one antiviral drug that our vet prescribed for one of our cats over a year ago was one that was for human use. Our veterinarian highly recommended that we shop around for a best price and then let her know so she could call the Rx in. One local pharmacy wanted $95.00, another wanted $50.00 and we found one that was charging $19.95 for the same medication. I was stunned but the pharmacist explained that since they do so much business with the drug company they can sell it for that price and still make a profit. Obviously we purchased it at that high quality pharmacy that we use ourselves.

  9. To me it seems to be a no-brainer that veterinarians should provide a written prescription to their clients so that they have a choice as to where they buy the medication. I think veterinarians would not lose money by being obliged to do this because it will encourage clients to use their services more frequently and not be put off so much by the high cost.

    In the UK we just do not give any thought to requesting a prescription from a veterinarian. We automatically presume that the veterinary clinic will provide the medication. That’s interesting. It seems that we are indoctrinated into believing that the only source of the medication is a veterinarian.

    Also, there is no thought given to going to a pharmacy with a veterinarian’s prescription. In the UK, as far as I’m aware, pharmacies only stock drugs for humans or am I missing the point entirely?

    Thanks for the article Jo.

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