BVA response to BBC Watchdog discussion on costs of veterinary medicines

29 November 2018

On Wednesday 28 November BBC Watchdog explored the topic of veterinary medicines, comparing the costs of buying directly from a veterinary practice with those of buying online. The British Veterinary Association believes that buying veterinary medicines from your own vet provides additional benefits to both patients and clients. We provided Watchdog with the following statement, some of which was included in their show.

BVA President Simon Doherty said:

“It is expensive for anyone to keep and dispense veterinary medicines under the strict guidelines that are set out in legislation. Setting up a pharmacy, buying and maintaining the correct equipment, and training staff are all costs that must be met by the sale of the medicines. Vets must keep in stock a wide range of medicines, including those that are needed in an emergency, and very expensive drugs that are rarely used. All veterinary medicines have a shelf-life and once the expiry date is reached the medicines must be discarded, even if none of it has been used. The vet has already paid for those drugs and so needs a pricing structure for the medicines that covers the cost of wastage.

“Online suppliers are able to buy in much larger quantities than individual veterinary practices and these costs can be more easily absorbed by the business, as practices need to cover higher overheads for expert staff, premises and equipment. However, it isn’t always cheaper to buy prescription medicines from an online source rather than your veterinary surgeon. If the medicines are very cheap this should ring alarm bells and you should take extra care to ensure the website belongs to a reputable, UK-based organisation.

“But even if the medicines bought online are safe there are added benefits to buying them from your veterinary practice. Vets and the vet nursing team will spend time demonstrating how to administer medicines correctly to ensure maximum efficacy and can talk through any possible adverse reactions, how to spot them and what to do. Buying from the vet also means that treatment can start immediately, rather than having to wait for a package to arrive by post.”

BVA Media Office