- What is the Vet-VIPPS Program?
- When was the Vet-VIPPS program developed?
- What are the steps required for an online pet pharmacy to become Vet-VIPPS accredited?
- How can clients verify the validity of pet pharmacy sites?
- How many online pet pharmacies are out there?
- What are the main advantages of ordering pet medications online?
- Who regulates online pet pharmacies?
- How do I set up an online pet pharmacy?
- Must we obtain a nonresident pharmacy application from each of the 50 states we will ship to?
- How does NABP work with government agencies that regulate online pet pharmacies?
- What organization can I contact regarding the regulation of online pet pharmacies?
- What if I believe an online pet pharmacy has dispensed the wrong medication or labeled the medication incorrectly?
- What are the signs of a suspiciously operating pharmacy?
- What if I believe that an online pet pharmacy may be operating suspiciously?
- Can a prescription be faxed to the online pet pharmacy, or does the pharmacy need the original prescription? Does the online pet pharmacy verify the prescription with the prescriber?
- What is the legality of a veterinarian giving a prescription to a client to be filled at another pharmacy?
- I experienced poor customer service from, or read negative online reviews of, a pharmacy doing business over the Internet, and I noticed that NABP has accredited/approved this business. Can NABP revoke accreditation/approval from this business or intervene?
The Veterinary-Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites (Vet-VIPPS) program accredits United States based online pharmacies that dispense prescription drugs and devices for companion and non-food producing animals. Its accompanying Vet-VIPPS seal of approval identifies to the public those online pet pharmacy practice sites that are appropriately licensed, are legitimately operating via the Internet, and have successfully completed a thorough criteria review and on-site survey.
The Vet-VIPPS program was launched in 2009 in response to public and regulatory agency concerns regarding the safety of veterinary drugs sold over the Internet. Like the VIPPS program, from which it was developed, Vet-VIPPS provides a means for the public to distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate online pharmacy practice sites.
- An online application must be submitted to NABP along with all required documentation and the appropriate fees.
- Pet pharmacy and pharmacist-in-charge’s licenses are verified.
- The NABP Clearinghouse is checked for pharmacy and pharmacist.
- Policies and procedures for the operation of the pet pharmacy are reviewed.
- An on-site survey of the pharmacy is scheduled and completed. Surveys and surveyors are managed directly by NABP.
Once an applicant completes the above steps and NABP confirms that the applicant pharmacy meets the appropriate federal and state laws and Vet-VIPPS program criteria, accreditation will be awarded, permission to display the Vet-VIPPS Seal will be granted, and the verified information about the pet pharmacy will be posted on the NABP Web site.
Clicking on the Vet-VIPPS Seal displayed on the pharmacy’s Web site links the user to the Vet-VIPPS verification Web page that then verifies that the Seal is indeed posted on a Vet-VIPPS accredited site. In such an instance, the user is then shown pharmacy-specific information, including licensure information.
It is difficult, if not impossible, to answer this question accurately, but it is probably fewer than you would think. One thing that is clear, however, is that rogue Internet drug outlets outnumber legitimate Internet pharmacies. Illegitimate pet pharmacies (usually those that offer online prescribing) open and close on a daily basis. One company posing as a legitimate pharmacy may have many URLs or Web addresses, creating the impression that there is a greater number of Internet pharmacies than actually exists.
Convenience is a major advantage that online pet pharmacies provide over some of their pharmacy competitors. Consumers’ ability to order and receive pet medications without leaving home is a tremendous time-saver. Often, drug information and price information may be accessed via the pharmacy’s Web site, or this information may be requested via e-mail so the consumer does not have to wait on the phone for an answer or travel to the pharmacy to ask for this information in person.
The state boards of pharmacy have primary responsibility for regulation of online pet pharmacies. Regulatory authority is mainly exercised by the state board of pharmacy of the state in which the pet pharmacy is physically located. In addition, most states require licensing for out-of-state pharmacies that ship medications to patients in their jurisdictions. The same regulations that apply to traditional brick-and-mortar and mail-order pharmacies typically apply to online pharmacies. Federal agencies, such as Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), are also partners with the state boards of pharmacy in this regulatory process.
If you are thinking about setting up an online pet pharmacy, we encourage you to do some homework and work in conjunction with the state boards of pharmacy. The Vet-VIPPS criteria may serve as a solid guideline when an organization plans to expand into interstate/Internet pet pharmacy practice and seeks to address issues of quality, verifiable relationships, regulatory compliance, and good pharmacy practices.
A majority of the states require an out-of-state pharmacy license in order to ship prescription medications into those states. You need to contact each state board of pharmacy to inquire about licensing requirements.
NABP has strong working relationships with the state boards of pharmacy and the federal regulatory agencies. Surveyor training programs and the Vet-VIPPS “Report a Site” feature on the NABP Web site are examples of ways in which NABP helps regulatory agencies monitor and investigate rogue Internet drug outlets.
Your first contact should be the local state board of pharmacy. You may also subscribe to NABPLAW®, the NABP state pharmacy laws and rules database, which allows users to research subjects one state at a time or across all 50 states.
12. What if I believe an online pet pharmacy has dispensed the wrong medication or labeled the medication incorrectly?
Please report these incidents to your local state board of pharmacy as well as to the board of pharmacy in the state where the pet pharmacy is located. You should also contact the pharmacy that mistakenly dispensed the medication and report to your veterinarian. Vet-VIPPS accredited pharmacies are required to document, track, and analyze these types of incidents to determine what went wrong and to prevent recurrences.
You may find this information in the Buying Medicine Online section of the NABP Web site. The Web page provides helpful information to educate patients on the dangers of buying prescription drugs from unknown and unapproved sources over the Internet, including the signs of a suspiciously operating Internet drug outlet.
Please report suspiciously operating pet pharmacies to NABP by completing and submitting the “Report a Site” online form.
15. Can a prescription be faxed to the online pet pharmacy, or does the pharmacy need the original prescription? Does the online pet pharmacy verify the prescription with the prescriber?
Generally state laws require faxed prescriptions to be received directly from the prescriber (not the patient or client) to be valid. Online sites that do not protect the integrity of the original prescription, or that do not verify the authenticity of suspect prescriptions may be in violation of the law. In addition, Vet-VIPPS-accredited pharmacies must have policies and procedures in place that address these issues. Before you entrust your pet’s health to anyone online, look for the Vet-VIPPS Seal, and click to verify.
16. What is the legality of a veterinarian giving a prescription to a client to be filled at another pharmacy?
Each state has independent laws regarding prescribing prescription drugs. You should contact the American Association of Veterinary State Boards for a list of state veterinary boards in order to determine the appropriate practices for your area.
17. I experienced poor customer service from, or read negative online reviews of, a pharmacy doing business over the Internet, and I noticed that NABP has accredited/approved this business. Can NABP revoke accreditation/approval from this business or intervene?
For its Accreditation programs, NABP evaluates only businesses’ adherence to state and federal pharmacy practice laws and best pharmacy practice standards. Unless your complaint centers on a component of an Accreditation program criteria or standard, NABP cannot intervene. NABP has no control over businesses’ customer service or marketing practices. If you have serious concerns about any business you encounter, please contact the state board of pharmacy in which that business is located or a local law enforcement authority.