An Ontario Pharmacist has filed a Competition Act complaint against certain Pharmaceutical Companies and Vet Drug Distributers alleging anti-competitive business practices.
Wendy Chui says the College of Veterinarians of Ontario (CVO), is accommodating distributors of pet pharmaceuticals and certain pharmaceutical manufacturers, including Bayer, who are allegedly acting in violation of the Competition Act because of their coordinated effort to stop supplying her with pet pharmaceuticals for her retail pharmacy and online pharmacy site PetsDrugMart.ca and their refusal to deal with her. The CVO has also contacted the veterinarians who supply pet medications to Chui, telling them they violate the code of conduct.
She says the refusal to deal has an adverse effect on competition as it results in veterinarians having a monopoly on the sale of pet drugs in Ontario despite their conflicts of interest in distributing, prescribing, and filling prescriptions. And it deprives the public of the ability to obtain products and services at lower prices.
Chui says, “Pharmacists across Ontario fill veterinary prescriptions using human drugs or special compounded formulations every day. It is not the practice that is the concern, it is the volume of drugs that Petdrugsmart.ca represents that is the threat. They want to shut us down. A lack of competition means animal drug prices will stay high.”
The price for animal pharmaceuticals at Chui’s online pet pharmacy are significantly lower (on average 40% but range from 20-97%) than the prices charged by vets to dispense.
Chui says, “Animal drugs should be dispensed by a professional – a veterinarian or a pharmacist. As a pharmacist, I am legally permitted to purchase and dispense veterinary drugs. The issue is not expertise. The manufacturers and distributors do not want consumers to have a choice. They want to maintain artificially high prices at the vet office.”
“Our 10-year-old French Bulldog/Pug mix, Rolo, has been on allergy medication since he was a puppy. Our vet prescribed the drug Atopica to relieve his severe symptoms. When we moved out of the country, we were astonished to discover how much less the same medication cost us there and it was a huge insight into the markup being passed onto Canadian pet owners. When we returned to Canada, we discovered Petsdrugmart.ca where we have always been able to find what we need at a fraction of the cost of buying directly from the vet.” – Irene O’ Callaghan
In 2017 Bayer filed a complaint against Chui with the Ontario College of Pharmacists, which included defamatory allegations, even though Chui’s practice was fully compliant with Ontario College of Pharmacy (OCP) standards. Bayer’s complaint against Chui was dismissed by the OCP. In the decision, the OCP agreed with Chui’s position that Bayer’s complaint was an abuse of the process and that it was made to protect Bayer’s business interests and not to protect the public. Chui complies with all the requirements for the safe dispensing of veterinarian pharmaceuticals as established by her college.
“Because your pet is part of your family, you want to know their medications are safe & legitimate, so you feel most comfortable getting them from your veterinarian. But I think pet owners deserve to know there are options like PetsDrugMart.ca — where they dispense the same medications as vets but at lower prices. We found our dog’s Trazodone medication on PetsDrugMart.ca for 96% less than the vet charged us.” – Deanne Puder
The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs is currently conducting a review of veterinarian regulations. They have not been revised since 1989. Consumers can provide comments on regulations to the Ministry by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org