The VIN News Service reports that a pet’s owner purchased online an Australian product called Nuheart, a generic form of ivermectin modeled after the brand-name medication Heartgard. Nuheart is sold over the counter in Australia but the drug is not approved in the United States or Canada. The owner was diligently giving the pet monthly medication to prevent heartworm infestation, and was astonished when the pet tested positive for heartworm during a routine exam.
All heartworm-prevention drugs in the United States and Canada require prescriptions. Yet many such products – approved and unapproved- are available online without a prescription from numerous outlets that operate in the shadows of international Internet commerce.
Some online pet pharmacies flaunt their ability to sell heartworm medications without prescriptions. One website goes by the name www.heartwormmedicinewithoutprescription.com. The site www.heartworm-medicine.info recently elaborated on the situation.
In the United States, purchasing heartworm preventive requires a prescription, according to the AHS (American Heartworm Society), which owners use to buy medication from their veterinarian or through a U.S. pharmacy. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires a licensed vet to prescribe heartworm preventive because giving the medication to a dog already infected can lead to severe or fatal consequences.
Veterinary products from other countries are not required to be in compliance with FDA labeling regulations, so even with a prescription it would be unlawful to sell them in the U.S. The U.S. Food and and Drug Administration (FDA) seems well aware of the proliferation of Internet pet pharmacies. It has posted several “buyer beware” cautionary statements. One such posting states: “Websites that sell prescription veterinary medicines without valid veterinary prescriptions are breaking the law.