Attention, pet owners: If you’re buying Fido’s meds directly from his vet—like most of you do—you’re likely paying upwards of 100% to 200% more than the wholesale price, not including standard dispensing fee, according to a speaker at an annual conference hosted by the American Animal Hospital Association. Now a bill introduced to the U.S. House Subcommittee on Health could make shopping for pet medicines even more competitive.
H.R. 1406, or the Fairness to Pet Owners Act, would require veterinarians to provide written prescriptions for their clients—like our doctors do—even if it isn’t requested by the pet owner.
Introduced by Rep. Jim Matheson (D-Utah) on April 6, 2011, the bill seeks to make it mandatory for vets to write prescriptions, verify them electronically, and notify pet owners of their prescription-filling options. The last requirement would provide consumers with the information they need to shop around for better deals, much as they do with their own prescriptions.
In most states, it is not common practice for vets to offer written prescriptions, except in Maryland where it is required at the patient’s request.
“The problem is that people don’t know to ask for [written prescriptions],” Jeff Blyskal, senior editor at Consumer Reports, told The Baltimore Sun. “I think requiring it is a small, extra five seconds of paperwork that is well worth it for the consumer.”
But unfortunately, the Sun reports that the new bill may lead to vets raising their service costs, especially if prescription sales take too much of a plunge. And if veterinarians’ income significantly depends on medicine revenue, they may have to look elsewhere to make up the loss, which would likely be in charges and fees.
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