articles for Veterinarians

Why You Need a Local Veterinary Pharmacy

You need a local veterinary pharmacy. There, I said it. This is in no way a marketing ploy. This is me talking to you, colleague to colleague. Friend to friend. Pet owner to pet owner. Whether the local veterinary pharmacy is one of our stores or somewhere else, you need one. Here’s why…

Drug Information Questions
The normal work schedule for a veterinarian seems to be 12 hours, seven days a week. That’s not counting on-call responsibilities. Do you really have time to spend three hours researching how to dose medication in a goat? Or figuring out the legal ramifications of the latest opioid crisis? Having access to a veterinary pharmacist can help with interpreting pharmacokinetic data, understanding pharmacotherapy and providing insight about pharmaceutical regulations.

About those seven-day work weeks – pharmacies have set business hours. Your patients’ needs don’t have set business hours. If you’ve built up a relationship with a local veterinary pharmacist, you’ve got someone you can turn to outside of those time frames. Whether it’s via phone call, text or email, my veterinarians know I’m almost always available for them.

Medication Errors
Let’s quit pretending that we don’t all hold our breath when a veterinary prescription goes out the door of most retail pharmacies. If you call a local pharmacy, what are the chances they will know how to properly dose your patients? Veterinary pharmacotherapy is nonexistent in the Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) curriculum. Most pharmacy students have never even learned that acetaminophen is highly toxic to a cat and that xylitol could kill a dog. A veterinary pharmacist is very aware of this information.

Financial Considerations
Back to the amount of clinical work you need to complete each day, let’s talk about the supplemental work you need to get done. Calling every pharmacy in town to play “Let’s Make a Deal” should not be one of those priorities. Closely working with a local veterinary pharmacist means you know what I’m going to charge almost every time. It also means you know that, as a local business, I’ve worked hard to keep my prices within a few dollars of all the other guys in town.

Speaking of local – you’re a local business. I’m a local business. Support local.

Drug Inventory
As if you didn’t have enough to worry with, how about drug inventory concerns? I can afford to have that expensive drug sitting on my shelf waiting for the right patient. I can also afford to have a large inventory, giving you more therapeutic options than your clinic can manage. Drug inventory is my line of work. Let me worry with it.

Drug inventory – have we even discussed controlled substances yet? The opioid crisis? Regulatory and legal compliance? This is another article unto itself…

Compounded Medications
Do you know how finicky drugs are? Not everything can go into water. Or a transdermal gel. Or be safely shipped across the country. This isn’t an Amazon Prime kind of business. A local compounding pharmacy knows the limits of medications. A reputable one will be honest with you, do their research and tell you if a drug just can’t be made a certain way. Additionally, a compounding pharmacy with a veterinary program will have a working knowledge of contraindicated flavors, vehicles and ingredients in compounding for certain species or breeds.

Referrals and Compliance
Chances are, I see your clients more often than you do. They come in to pick up their pets’ meds, their meds, their kids meds, talk to us about the football/basketball/baseball game… a veterinary pharmacy can be an excellent source of referrals. Especially since the staff knows that it’s illegal to recommend an OTC product to your patients – we always refer.

Improved communication to clients can also lead to improved patient (owner) compliance. Pharmacists are pros at detecting nonadherence. A veterinary pharmacist can provide patients with additional information about individual drugs, identify potential adverse drug reactions and interactions, and supply appropriate container or compliance aids.

Bottom Line
Working in veterinary medicine can be a very rewarding experience. But it can also bring significant stress, especially when you add our personal lives into the mix. The reality is you can’t do everything on your own. Find a local veterinary pharmacist or program that deeply cares about this line of work. Let them help you with struggles and seek their advice. It’s not a marketing ploy, it’s better patient care.