Human pharmacy chains are looking to dispense pet prescriptions. Keep in mind, common and simple prescriptions such as antibiotics,
corticosteroids and antihistamines could get caught in a marketing campaign that sells "no prescriptions over $4." Some states
require that clients be advised that their prescription may be filled at a pharmacy. Morally and legally, it's necessary to
provide a written prescription on request, and legislation is being pursued in the U.S. House of Representatives to require
veterinarians to provide a written prescription regardless of whether the order will be filled at the hospital or at an independent
pharmacy. We are in a new reality when it comes to pharmacy and dispensing from our practices.
For years, veterinarians have been dealing with the reality that, regardless of the source, some parasite-control products
are available in big-box stores and on the Internet. A number of products are available as OTC products by pet retailers,
supermarkets and big-box stores. Some of these products will be retailed for about the price you pay now before you pay overhead.
These products and prescription drugs are being commoditized and sold as a convenience at prices we can't match.
Pharmacies, however, are not our enemy. They didn't create the perception of lack of value. We did. They're just doing what
they should as businesses and responding to the opportunities we've cast before them.
Pharmacy chains now consider their drug dispensing as a service. Profit is generated selling everything from energy drinks
to cookies to hair products. Where do you shop? Do you frequent big-box stores? Do you buy your contact lenses online? Do
you pump your own gas? Of course you do. Market pressures have all but eliminated "service" at filling stations. So did these
industries respond? You bet they did—by giving people what they wanted rather than forcing them to buy what was offered.
I've identified problems facing the market. Next month I'll offer ways you can slow the bleeding and offer ways you can set
your practice apart.
Dr. Paul is a veterinary consultant as well as a founding member and former executive director/CEO of the Companion Animal Parasite
Council. He has served as president of the American Animal Hospital Association. He now lives in Anguilla in the British West