September 01, 2007


 Reminder: prescribing within veterinarian-client-patient relationship

posted August 15, 2007

The AVMA has recently received reports that certain Internet pharmacies have offered to dispense prescription drugs without valid prescriptions.

Clients who wish to purchase their prescription drugs from a pharmacy rather than a veterinarian should obtain a prescription from their veterinarian before contacting a pharmacy. Certain Internet pharmacies require that a medical questionnaire be completed, but if a client completes the form, it does not constitute as a valid prescription.

"A valid prescription is one in which there is a bona fide patient-prescriber relationship," said Carmen A. Catizone, executive director for the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy. "NABP and the state boards of pharmacy maintain that an online questionnaire or cyberspace consultation alone does not constitute a bona fide patient-prescriber relationship."

For veterinarians who come across Internet pharmacies that offer to dispense drugs without valid prescriptions, the AVMA recommends completing and submitting the Prescribing and Dispensing Complaint Form to the appropriate state pharmacy board.

A copy of the complaint form is available to AVMA members online at The AVMA recommends also submitting the completed form to the Food and Drug Administration's Center for Veterinary Medicine, and copying the AVMA. Instructions on contacting these groups are included within the form.

Concerning Internet pharmacies, the AVMA offers a policy online at The policy states that drug treatment, when medically indicated, should be initiated by the attending veterinarian in the context of a veterinarian-client-patient relationship.

Also related to prescription drugs, the AVMA has received reports of suppliers soliciting veterinarians to sell quantities of prescription animal medications outside a valid veterinarian-client-patient relationship.

Veterinarians are licensed to prescribe, administer, and dispense prescription drugs in the course of their professional practice within a veterinarian-client-patient relationship. Veterinarians who wish to become commercial suppliers of prescription drugs should determine the requirements for registration as a wholesaler or distributor.

Veterinarians approached by suppliers to resell drugs should report their concerns to their state pharmacy board and the pharmacy board where the company is located, using the AVMA Prescribing and Dispensing Complaint Form.

For more information on prescribing and dispensing, visit the AVMA Web site at for answers to frequently asked questions.