We have expressed caution over the years to our readers about using Internet pharmacies. Many aren't reliable or safe, selling inferior drugs, contaminated products or incorrect compounded drugs.
We recently learned that the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) has instituted a program that can help protect consumers. it's similar to the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC) accreditation program, in that it's voluntary for pharmacies, but it does hold the pharmacies to a high standard.
This new accreditation program for online pharmacies selling animal drugs is called Veterinary-Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Site or Vet-VIPPS. They have no regulatory powers, but it's a step in the right direction.
Accredited pharmacies will need to be properly licenses and in compliance with state and federal laws and regulations, which not all Internet pharmacies do. Interestingly, Google requires online pharmacies that advertise with them to be accredited by the NABP.
As you may be aware, there's a lot of controversy about non-veterinarian sales of products that are supposed to be available only through a licensed veterinarian. These products include both prescription and non-prescription products. Among the concerns is that some products may not be handled properly or may be contaminated. How and why the sellers even receive the products is unclear, although efforts are being made to curtail the operation.
To find an accredited pharmacy visit www.nabp.net or call 847-391-4406. Accredited pharmacies will likely have the Vet-VIPPs logo on their site.
If you're not purchasing your horse's medications directly through your veterinarian, we recommend that you consider pharmacies that have completed the NABP program and are accredited. At the moment, it's the best defense you have, if you're not using your veterinarian to supply drugs.
Dr. Grant Miller, Contributing Veterinary Editor