Posted on 14 Comments

What’s The Alternative to Vet Prescription Charges?

Looking at the receipt from the vet nearly made my eyes water.  They prescribed 5ml of drops for my old girl for possible glaucoma today, at a price of £51.02 for the meds.  I pretty much choked, said that the dog would have to get put down at this rate as I wasn’t willing to get into debt for her monthly drugs.

I know, pouting doesn’t suit anyone over the age of 8 – I sounded ridiculous.

I paid the extortionate fee and fumed while I waited to pick up a child.  I checked the Internet to see if there was a human version and thankfully the same drug is used for humans.  That meant a phone call to my local pharmacy.  They charge £11.45 on a private prescription for it.

So – £8.50 for the prescription and £11.45 for the drops (the chemist make a profit at this rate remember.)

A total of £19.95 from the chemist over the road from the vet.

The vet wanted £51.02, so that’s a whopping £31.07 more than the local chemist.

So, breaking it down, the vet wanted £31.07 pure profit + the £8.50 script and say £3 for the profit the chemist would have made.  I know it’s probably more, but it’s a conservative estimate.

In total, off a teensy bottle of drops, the vet wanted to pocket £42.57 at least.  Probably slightly more.  That doesn’t even count the £26 for a consultation to get the drops in the first place.

It’s daylight robbery.

Vet Prescription 1

I looked at Lloyds online and they were even cheaper for it at £7.85 so I would probably go that route if this ends up a  long-term prescription.    And at £7.85, Lloyds make a PROFIT.

If these figures aren’t making you sit up and take a look at your pets meds, they should.  Most medicines won’t be so over inflated as these drops, but you could save a pretty penny over a year if your animals are on long term scripts.

I’ve heard people saying vets have to pay more to get them in, but I don’t believe that.  A large vet won’t be charged more than a dispensing pharmacy for animals than they would be for humans, or they should be telling people to go and get their scripts filled elsewhere to allow the animals to get the treatment they deserve.

No wonder so many animals are going without treatment.  If people don’t realise they can ask for the human version where possible, they are being fleeced right royally.   It’s not fair and it’s not right.  It’s also not usually the fault of the vet we see in practice as they normally are just charging what they’re told to charge, but if we don’t talk with our wallets, they’ll just keep on overcharging us.

If the vet prescribes you something for your animals, check it out before paying.  My vet had the good grace to refund me the £51.02 and give me a script that I could walk across the road and get filled.  Talking to the pharmacist, she is surprised that  they don’t get more prescriptions from people going to the vets, given that there are 2 vets within a short distance,.  I would imagine most people are like I was and don’t realise that many pet prescriptions can be filled at a chemist or online human or animal pharmacy for much cheaper than we pay at the vets.

For the next script, if she needs more, I will ask for a few months on one script so that it works out even cheaper.

We all need to get smart with our pets meds.


14 thoughts on “What’s The Alternative to Vet Prescription Charges?

  1. Can I just point out that the vet probably was not making a £31 profit on these drugs. Veterinary wholesalers tend to charge quite high prices for a lot of the human medicines they stock. At the practice I work in our cost price for those drops is nearly £25 if we buy them from our wholesaler.
    Online pharmacies or large group pharmacies will be dispensing these drugs much more often so will be buying in bulk and likely getting a massive discount from the manufacturer. Strangely, they don’t want to give us discount when we only use a bottle or two per month!
    Yes, we could probably buy them at Lloyds online or send someone out to the local pharmacy to pick them up for you but that would add to our time spent obtaining them (don’t forget staff have to be paid to either go to the pharmacy or take the time to shop around online as well as writing the prescription).

    But of course, you are well within your rights to shop around and ask for a prescription for any medication you obtain for your animals. Just please don’t assume that your vet is obtaining them for the same price as you see online and go around bad-mouthing vets. Vets work hard, usually very long hours under a lot of pressure and earn a lot less than most people think.

    Re-examinations for animals on medicines are to make sure the medicine is working effectively and they do not have any side-effects or need any changes of dose etc. I’m sure your GP would want to check you over at least once a year if you were on long-term meds. So if you work out that your animal ages much more quickly than a human (typically 5-7 times quicker) and extrapolate then your pet should be checked 5-7 times per year. Typically most vets will recommend check ups every 3-6 months when on long her-m medication so it’s really not that ridiculous and why shouldn’t they be paid for their time? Would you turn up to work if no one paid you?

    Just a final note on “pure profit” – don’t forget to take into account the cost in time, support staff and facilities for work carried out or products bought from any business you deal with too.

    1. Hi KTV. I think the care of animals gets lost in the drive for profit. For individual vets, I can imagine the costs are higher, but there is no excuse for selling something £31 dearer than 10 steps away in the chemist and for a cost that has to be paid monthly for just 1 of the 4 meds my dog needs each month. The sheer costs of drugs and treatments are why many animals suffer without meds. If there is an option for people to get meds cheaper, then they’re daft not to take it. Vet chains can negotiate supply, of course they can. If the costs were more reasonable, more animals would be taken to the vet in the first place.

      The vet isn’t losing out. They still get the consultation fee, the prescription fee and the follow up consults fees. That isn’t part of the cost of the medication. They got the consultation fee on top of the med price. It isn’t included, or did you think that price included the consultation fee? It didn’t. The vets still follow up as they prescribe the meds, so I’m not sure what you mean there.

      Nobody expects vet staff to get the prescriptions either. Going to any chemist with a private prescription would be easy enough for most people if it’s saving a lot of money a month.

  2. wow that’s a huge difference, I would never have thought of that x

    1. Humungous difference. I couldn’t believe it.

  3. Our cat has a human medicine, but it isn’t really the cost of the medicine from the vet that is the problem in that case. It’s the charge for the consultation fee that is the biggest cost. That said it sounds like it’s worth shopping around particularly if your animal is having regular treatment.

    1. If it’s a recurring medicine, we shouldn’t have to pay the recurring consultation fees either. I was surprised at the difference of the price of this though. That is an extortionate difference.

  4. I never knew you could do this. Luckily my dog is young and so far so good but definitely worth knowing for the future!

    1. It’s only recently that my dog has had more health problems. Up until she was 7, there was almost nothing, then she went blind, and we’d not much else until she got to about 10. I am glad we have insurance, but it’s expensive now she’s older.

  5. Our dog has been diabetic for about 2 years now and the vets bills have been eyewateringly high too. We got a private prescription quite early on after researching on the internet as our dog requires insulin twice daily plus other meds for his eyes, etc. Good post, excellent to highlight this.

    1. I don’t think enough people realise that many of the meds handed out for pets are also used in humans. The eye drops for an eye infection set me back a fortune from the vet, only to realise today I could have got them over the counter for less than a fiver. It’s been eye opening. We have a monthly script for one medicine that isn’t such a big jump, but is still over £100 saving in a year by using a private script. It’s better in our pockets if we don’t have to spend it.

  6. I can’t believe there’s that much of a difference! I think next time, I’ll do the same and ask for the prescription so I can take it somewhere cheaper if possible!

    1. Some prescriptions won’t be able to be fulfilled at the chemist if they are licensed for animals only, so I think I will ask if there is an alternative in future that is also used in humans and compare the prices before I decide which way to go. It’s just too much of a difference to ignore.

  7. Wow, that’s a really good idea. I suspect there may be a bit of funding of one treatment with another and having been a small business person once in my life, it’s surprising how much you think the profit will be to then realise it’s not true. Remember as well that pharmacists do also get part funded through the NHS and have a huge amount of prescriptions; they can fill 20 in an hour whereas a vet probably only does 2-3. That said though… it does seem ridiculous and thank you for pointing this out to people.

    1. It could be the difference between lots of people being able to afford to treat their animals and not being able to afford it. It gave me a shock to realise it was so much more expensive from the vet.

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