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Why Are Your Dog’s Drugs Cheaper Than Yours?

Americans pay more for their prescription medications than people in other countries. Turns out our dog's drugs are also less than human meds

Do your medicines cost too much? How would you know? What is a fair price for generic medications? A new study in JAMA Internal Medicine (Sept. 12, 2022) compared the cost of human and veterinary formulations of the same drug. The differences were startling. Your dog’s drugs are substantially less expensive than your own medications.

On average, the drug costs for human medicine was over five times higher than the cost for the same drugs to treat a dog. In about 30 percent of the comparisons, the cost was more than 10 times higher for the human medications.

Your Dog’s Drugs Are Often Identical To Yours:

You might be surprised to learn that veterinary medicines are frequently the same as human medicines. Animals are prescribed the antidepressants sertraline (Zoloft) and fluoxetine (Prozac) for anxiety, compulsive behaviors and aggression. The dose may be different, but the medication is the same.

Levetiracetam (Keppra) is prescribed to people to control the seizures associated with epilepsy. It is used for exactly the same purpose in cats and dogs.

People are prescribed ondansetron (Zofran) for severe nausea and vomiting, often brought on by cancer chemotherapy. Cats and dogs are also prescribed ondansetron for nausea and vomiting.

Our pets also take atorvastatin, doxycycline, gabapentin, levofloxacin, metformin, omeprazole and prednisolone. These are all familiar generic drugs that humans also take.

A Dramatic Price Difference for Your Dog’s Drugs:

The authors of this study describe a dramatic difference for an oral vitamin K1 formulation:

“Absolute price differences between human and pet prices for a 30-day supply were sometimes substantial, even for human discounted prices. A noteworthy example from 2018 involves a 5-mg tablet of phytonadione (oral vitamin K1) for humans costing $70.51, and a 50-mg veterinary-grade tablet costing $0.61.”

Why Do Dog’s Drugs Cost Less?

We have to assume that the makers of pharmaceuticals for pets are not giving away their medicines. The only way a company that makes veterinary drugs could stay in business is if they make a profit. And yet the prices they are charging are often substantially less than those made by the manufacturers of human drugs. Why?

Americans pay far more for their medications than the citizens of virtually all other countries. Now we know that Americans pay far more for their own medicines than their dog’s drugs.

If you would like to learn some strategies to reduce the cost of your medications, here is a link to our eGuide to Saving Money on Medicines.

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.”.
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