Senators from Connecticut and New York are spearheading a bill that they say would save pet owners hundreds of dollars annually.
United States Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) and Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-New York) introduced the Fairness to Pet Owners Act, which would allow people access to prescriptions for their pets' medicine. That includes 1.9 million pet owners in Connecticut.
The law would require vets to write prescriptions so that people have the option of buying pet medication elsewhere, including at pharmacies and online.Veterinarians are not currently required to do so. Blumenthal said in a press release that it sometimes enables vets offices to charge higher prices for pet medication purchased on site without much other competition.
“A simple piece of paper could save Connecticut pet owners $123 million a year," Blumenthal said.
"This common sense bill is about enabling pet owners to shop around for the best price for their pets’ medications. The same right to a prescription without having to ask has worked for contact lens consumers, where similar legislation passed in 2004 drove down prices in the industry by 20 percent. Veterinarians provide invaluable care for our pets but they should compete for the consumer’s pet prescription business."
In the U.S., 71 million American households own a pet, spending roughly $10 billion on medications for their pets, according to Blumenthal. The average pet owner spent $140 on medicine for their pets in 2011, Blumenthal said citing the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But they could save 45 percent making those purchases online, amounting to $63 in average savings annually, he said citing Consumer Reports.
Major pharmacies like Walmart, Wegmans and PetCareRX also carry pet medications.
Federal law currently prohibits pet owners from buying medication for their animals without a prescription, but vets are not required to give them a copy, Blumenthal said.