Wednesday, October 15, 2008

It Isn't All About Money. But...

I have a bit of a quandary.

I really like my dogs' veterinarian. One of the reasons I started using this particular vet is because he helps American Brittany Rescue (ABR) by discounting services significantly. Which is huge. Quite a few ABR dogs have been helped by this particular vet.

I've known for some time their drug prices are higher than prices on the Internet. But they match prices, so it never really mattered that much. Besides, I'd rather the extra money go to this vet who helps ABR all the time than some other vet.

That changed today when I realized just how much said vet is marking-up the prices of some drugs.

Drugs like Frontline and Heartgard are usually a bit cheaper on-line than at the vet. But these are popular drugs, so the vet has to be competitive. It is the cost of the lesser-known drugs that are the real issue.

C, our oldest dog (she's 12 1/2), has been suffering with chronic diarrhea for some time. We can't figure out what is wrong. After quite a few expensive diagnostic procedures and several different drugs (yes, we tried different food, too) we're at a loss. So we've decided to try a long-term course of an antibiotic known generically as metronidazole (brand-name Flagyl).

We decided this during our last visit. It is a drug that requires a prescription, which the office filled. For 20 pills, it cost $23 or $1.15/pill.

It seems to be working so I called in for a 100-pill refill today. Not until after I checked Internet prices, of course. I was amazed to learn that prices for this pill ranged from $0.10/pill to $0.26/pill. My feelings went quickly from amazement, to confusion, to pissed off.

I called the vet's office thinking no way they'd match that price. They did, no questions asked. I just had to show them a printout.

The matching is nice and all, but I feel robbed. What if I'd bought 100 pills last week instead of only 20?

So, do I stay pissed off at the vet? Maybe change vets? That was my first inclination. Until I thought about it some more. I'd be willing to bet the practice is pretty common. Prices are not usually determined by considering cost alone. Prices are established based on what people will pay, or what the market will bear. And the vet is running a business.

I think I just learn to adjust. I'll have the vet write an actual prescription, not sell me some pills. Maybe that will work. Time will tell I guess.

In the meantime, if you have pets and buy your drugs from the vet, do yourself a favor and check Internet prices. This is not the only drug I have saved significantly on.

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