Shop Around For Pet Meds: Save Money

Copyright 2012

The cost of medicine for pets – just like for humans – can vary by 100 percent or more, depending on where you have your prescription filled.

While purchasing prescription medicine at your veterinarian is the most convenient, frequently – not always – it is the most expensive.

Pet owners have other alternatives including on-line stores, pharmacies (both independent and chain), department stores that have pharmacies  including those at Costco, Target, and Walmart. Even some supermarket pharmacies are getting into selling pet medications.

“About two-thirds of the pet owners we surveyed for this report said they buy their pet medicines from the vet who prescribes them. That’s often a mistake because vets’ markups over wholesale start at 100 percent and frequently hit 160 percent, plus a $5 to $15 dispensing fee, according to the American Animal Hospital Association’s latest Veterinary Fee Reference,” says Consumer Reports.

“For some medicines, the markups are even higher, according to a survey of wholesale prices compared with retail prices charged by 1,728 veterinarians, conducted in 2009 by LHK Partners, a market research firm. Examples include a 567 percent markup for the anti-inflammatory steroid prednisone, 800 percent for the pain reliever tramadol, and 1,019 percent for the antibiotic amoxicillin.”

Dr. Christopher Gargamelli, president of the Connecticut Veterinary Medical Association, says that there is no question that in many cases pet medication will be cheaper at pharmacies where they have huge volume discounts.

He says that the code of ethics for both Connecticut and American Veterinary Medical Associations state that veterinarians – if asked – should honor client requests to have medication prescribed to a pharmacy.

“We as a professional organization believe in choice,” he said in a telephone interview. Dr. Gargamelli, a small animal emergency veterinarian at the Animal Emergency Hospital of Central Connecticut in Rocky Hill has 3 dogs, 2 guinea pigs, 2 cats, 2 rabbits, and a turtle.


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1 Comment on "Shop Around For Pet Meds: Save Money"

  1. George,
    I subscribe to the New Haven Register where I read your column regularly, and usually enjoy it very much.

    As an owner of a small independent pharmacy, the Beacon Falls Pharmacy, I am pleased that you highlighted the fact that many pet meds can be had at retail pharmacies at a significant savings to the customer. Unfortunately, by only recommending chain, supermarket, and big box pharmacies, you did your readers and small pharmacy owners a disservice.

    The “Big Box” stores and chain pharmacies don’t always have the best price. To the contrary, small independent pharmacies like mine usually beat chain pharmacies on cash (i.e. non-insurance) prescription prices. As an example, two “people” medications that are commonly also prescribed for pets are Tramadol for pain and Phenobarbital for seizures. Our regular cash price for 60 tablets of Tramadol 50mg is $15.10. Our regular cash price for 60 tablets of Phenobarbital 16.2mg is $10.95.

    As a matter of fact, we are so confident that our prices are fair and competitive that we guarantee that our cash prices will beat the chain pharmacies every time. Here is a link to an article written by Dave Krechevsky of the Waterbury Republican on this subject back in March of this year. The article can be found at

    I hope you will be able to point out to your readers that small independent pharmacies are a very cost effective source of both people and pet meds.
    Thanks for all your efforts.
    Bob and Marion Bradley,
    Beacon Falls Pharmacy

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