Christine Navarre, Claesgens, Mark A. | 11/20/2007 10:16:57 PM
Pet owners should be cautious of purchasing animal drugs on the Internet. The products may not be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and pose a health threat to the pets.
Pet drugs sold by unscrupulous businesses in this country has been a growing concern, according to LSU AgCenter veterinarian Dr. Christine Navarre.
Foreign companies selling pet drugs is also a growing concern because without FDA regulation they can sidestep the FDA and offer drugs that otherwise require a prescription in the United States.
"Lack of oversight of quality control is a major problem," Navarre said, explaining that the amount of an active ingredient in a product may range from zero all the way to toxic levels.
"Pet owners just don’t know for sure what they’re getting," the veterinarian said.
Some Internet companies may claim to have a veterinarian on staff, but this person never sees the pet and prescribes medication based on an online questionnaire filled out by the pet owner.
Although the drugs most commonly purchased are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and heartworm disease prevention products, all types of pet drugs are sold online, Navarre said.
In Louisiana and other parts of the South, heartworm disease is a major problem because it can be contracted year-round, whereas it is seasonal in other regions, the veterinarian added.
The diagnosis for heartworm disease includes a blood test, which can’t be done over the Internet. An unsuspecting pet owner, therefore, could possibly give a heartworm preventative to an animal that already has the disease. The pet could have severe reactions.
"Another problem with Internet drug purchases is the potential of importing foreign animal disease through unregulated drugs manufactured in other countries," Navarre said. "People just don’t know the potential dangers or legalities when buying pet drugs online," she said. Adding to the frustration for veterinarians is not knowing the extent of the problem. "There’s no way to obtain hard numbers and track it," Navarre said.