PVMA Keystone Veterinarian Winter 2020 - 22

PHARMACY HEADACHES:
Addressing Common Concerns
with Retail Pharmacies
By Kate Boatright, VMD,
and Lauren EichstadtForsythe, PharmD

For many veterinarians, conflicts with
retail pharmacists are common and may
feel inevitable. It seems easy to write a
prescription for Bella's amoxicillin and
send the client to the local pharmacy.
But a few hours later, the pharmacy
calls asking for an NPI or DEA number
so that they can fill the script. Then a
different client calls to inform you that
the pharmacist said the phenobarbital
dose you prescribed was too high. Later,
Mrs. Smith brings her diabetic cat, Angel,
in for a recheck and informs you that the
nice pharmacist helped her out by giving
her a cheaper insulin than the one you
prescribed.
Suddenly, the thirty seconds it took to
write the prescription in the first place
has turned into an hour or more of
work for you and your staff as you try to
address each issue. You wonder why the
pharmacists are interfering with your
patients and why they can't just do their
job and fill the prescriptions that are sent
to them without question.
There are answers to these questions,
and there are ways to reduce errors and
improve outcomes. We are a veterinarian
and a pharmacist who are spreading
awareness of the problems and working
to find solutions based on personal
experiences. Dr. Boatright is a practicing
22 | Keystone Veterinarian

small animal veterinarian in western
Pennsylvania, and Dr. Eichstadt-Forsythe
is a licensed pharmacist who specializes
in veterinary pharmacy. She has worked
in retail pharmacy and now supervises
the pharmacy at the Veterinary Teaching
Hospital at the University of Illinois.
Together, we hope to answer your
questions, provide solutions to common
problems, and provide tips for improving
relationships with retail pharmacists
in an exclusive series of articles for the
Keystone Veterinary magazine in 2020.
In this issue, we will discuss the current
state of the pet medication market, why
these problems exist, the extent of the
problem and some common concerns
we have heard from veterinarians in
Pennsylvania and around the country.

It's All About Money - The
Current Market for Pet
Medications
The market for pet medications (both
prescription and over the counter (OTC)
products) increases annually. In the
United States, approximately $8.55
billion was spent on pet prescription and
OTC medications in 2017.1 The market
research firm Packaged Facts projects
that the market could reach $11.2 billion
by 2021.1 This is an attractive market for
retail and online pharmacies,2 leading

to increased competition for veterinary
clinics.
According to Packaged Facts' "Pet
Medications in the U.S., 5th Edition,"
released in August 2017, veterinary sales
accounted for 62% of pet medication
sales. Big box stores, such as Walmart,
Target, and Costco, comprised 20%
of medication sales, internet sales
comprised 12%, and pet specialty
stores took the remaining 7%.1,3 The
good news for veterinarians is that the
majority of pet owners still feel that their
veterinarian is the most qualified source
for obtaining pet medication.3
In 2015, the FTC released a report
showing market changes that were
leading to increased competition for
veterinarians from other retailers and
stated better prescription portability
would increase competition.4 The
Fairness to Pet Owners Act was first
introduced in 2011 and has been
reintroduced multiple times. As of July
2019, it is an active bill in the House. The
AVMA opposes this legislation.5

Why do problems arise between
veterinarians and pharmacists?
Both veterinarians and pharmacists
have legal and ethical obligations when
it comes to prescription medication.



PVMA Keystone Veterinarian Winter 2020

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