The Dangers of Counterfeit Preventions

With the prevalence of online shopping and the everyday consumer looking for the best deal, it's no wonder pet medications are the lastest product to be sold on marketplace sites. But did you know that not all sites are created equal? When it comes to buying your pet's medications and preventions there is a good reason we try to sell you them in clinic. We are doing our very best to give you and your pet the best care possible. 

The market research firm Packaged Facts estimates that U.S. sales of drugs made for dogs and cats reached $9 billion in 2018 so it's no surprise that a lot of companies, reputable or not want to get their hands on it. Outside of buying counterfeit products from overseas, many companies buy bulk medications from vet clinics right here in the United States. While it's not illegal to sell products to these companies, it most likely violates their contract with their pharmaceutical companies.  If you are willing to sneak around a contract, what is going to stop you from sending expired, poorly stored, or defective goods? 

Internet Pharmacies and no prescription required. 

It is against the law in the United States to sell any heartworm prevention without a prescription. Why? According to the AVMA, "it's critical that your veterinarian makes sure the medication is the right one based on your pet's health status. Heartworm preventatives target infective larvae as they are migrating through the tissue prior to reaching the bloodstream and developing into adult heartworms. If your dog (or cat) already has adult heartworms, giving a preventive medication will not effectively treat the disease because the preventives don't readily kill adult heartworms." Just like in human medicine, your doctor will need to make sure certain medication is the best option for you based on your health, it is the same in veterinary medicine.

Heartworm Prevetions

Other preventions such as Flea and Tick do not require a prescription but many manufacturers won't sell to just anyone. According to the AVMA, 'some manufacturers have decided to sell their products only through veterinarians so that the veterinarian and pet owner can work together to determine the best flea and tick treatment for that pet.' So while you don't need a prescription to get your hands on feal and tick medications, you have to wonder if they are only selling to vet-clinics, where did this site and others get their product from? 

When it comes to other drugs, don't freak out just yet, Martine Hartogensis, D.V.M., deputy director of the Office of Surveillance and Compliance in FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM), says many online pharmacies are reputable but it's critical you are aware of where you are buying your pet's medications from. The FDA uses the fancy acronym A.W.A.R.E

A. Ask.

  • Ask your veterinarian of buying a particular drug online is advisable and whether any additional monitoring is required. 

W. Watch.

  • Watch for red flags such as if the online pharmacy doesn't require a prescription. 

A. Accreditation.

  • Check the site in question. All reputable online pharmacies are part of the Vet-VIPPS program. 

R. Report.

  • Report any suspicious pharmacies to the FDA if you see any red flags. 

E. Educate. 

  • Educate your self about online pet pharmacies. 

99.9 % of the time we at GVA will price match an online retailer. Please do not be afraid to ask! 

Counterfeit products and you. 

Spotting a counterfeit is a useful skill to help you decide if an online retailer is reputable or not. While many may use official stock photos, some do not. If you order a product and the package looks a bit off, or different than the photo, use this list to help you determine if it is safe to use or a counterfeit. As a disclaimer, there are no overall characteristics that a counterfeit will have. There may be small differences so be hyper-vigilant. 

  • Directions are not in English
  • Products are too easy to open and not in 'child-safe' packaging. 
  • No directions or product information inside the box. 
  • The product in the box is not appropriate for the animals or size of the animal pictured on the front. 
  • Stickers on the box hide foreign labels. 
  • EPA registration number is missing. 
  • Foreign labeled products with some information in English. 
  • Foreign labeled products. 
  • Extremely discounted prices
  • Weights and measurements are not in US standard, i.e kg or ml, not lbs or fl oz. 

Counterfiet NexgardCounterfiet Heartgard





The real dangers or subpar products and counterfeits. 

Side effects from mishandled products and counterfeits can range from an ineffective product to nasty side effects and health issues. Product that arrives from overseas very well may be near its expiration date or even expired, are most likely not processed in line with the FDA's guidelines, and incorrect storage and shipping can render a product entirely ineffective. 

Expired medications or less effective medications would be the least of your worries but can bring about an entirely new set of costly problems. Veterinary Pet Insurance estimates that the yearly cost of preventing heartworm is around $85 or $7 a month. Compare that to the average cost of treating heartworms, which can range from $1,200 to $1,800. More than prevention for the life of your dog. Now most manufacturers will pay for your pet's heartworm treatments if you can verify you've been purchasing your preventions from a reputable source and have had yearly heartworm tests. Ordering counterfeit products or expired products that don't protect your pet, even unknowingly, would void that guarantee and Heartworm treatment isn't easy. 

Other commonly bought medications online are NSAIDs or Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs to relieve pain. Buying this type of medication online from unreputable sources can cause severe harm to your pet. Pets who are prescribed NSAIDs are closely monitored by a veterinarian. Prolonged or improper use of these drugs can cause kidney failure and liver toxicity. Reputable sources will attach your vet's instructions as well, whereas other places may just put 'use according to your vet's instructions' resulting is inaccurate doses and other issues. 

Counterfiet Frontline

We're here to help!

Have questions about your pet's prescription? Want to know if an online source is reputable? Interested in price matching? Let us know! We'd be more than happy to help you figure out a way to get your pet their medications in a way that works for you. We offer a bunch of rebate programs and other in-house loyalty programs to help you save money while providing great medical care to your pets.