Animals & Money: Making pet drugs cheaper

Human doctors can't sell prescription drugs because it would be a conflict of interest to have them dispense certain medicines for profit. A lot of veterinarians, however, count on prescription drugs as an income stream. DVM Magazine recommends charging a $20 dispensing fee and Veterinary Economics recommends an average markup of 150% to 175%.

So it's a relief to see some competition finally entering the area. Online pet sellers like 1-800-PetMeds and Doctors Foster and Smith have been making headway toward cracking what is something close to a monopoly on pet medications. Now Costco is getting in on the game. As the dog blogger Terrierman points out, Costco has started selling the expensive flea medication Frontline.

Veterinary Economics says that "practices typically mark up heartworm and flea control products 100%." That means half the amount you pay is going to your vet. Online pet retailers have already put price pressure on vets. But not all vets have to or will write prescriptions to be filled elsewhere. Having Costco enter the fray just puts added price pressure on the most common drugs.