Challenges of Supplying Medications

With the advent of online pharmacies in the US, as veterinarians, we are often asked why we don’t carry a certain product, or why prices are sometimes higher in Canada than what is advertised on a US online pharmacy. The simple answer is that Canada and the US do not share drug approval systems; so what is available and approved in the US may not be approved for use in Canada and vice versa. Also the product manufacturers often have separate Canadian and US divisions or suppliers. Believe it or not we share these same frustrations and often ask our suppliers these same questions. It drives us crazy that US veterinarians can purchase some products so much cheaper than we can as their counterparts. Unfortunately, the higher price for us means a higher price for clients.

 A case in point is Adequan: Even though the same product is sold in both Canada and the US, there are many differences. 



10 dose bottle


7 dose box

7 dose box

Luitpold is the manufacturer and supplier

Novartis sells in Canada

The selling price to vets is much less expensive in the US than in Canada. In the past we had seen some online pharmacies selling it at a retail price less expensive than we can get it from our suppliers! Fortunately for the past 2 years Novartis, the company we deal with in Canada, has tried to combat cross border shopping of the product and has lowered their prices. We are able to buy in large volumes thereby reducing our costs even further, which we are happy to be able to pass on to our clients. We now sell the 7 dose box the same price at the equivalent product shipped from the US, taking into consideration the cost of shipping the product to Canada.

There is another advantage of buying veterinary medications from a veterinarian and that is that we can advise you on the best medication for a condition and proper dosing levels. For example, recent research from the makers of Adequan has identified that instead of giving a 7 dose starter series followed by monthly injections one can give a horse the initial 7 dose starter series and then repeat that series in 6 months. There is no need for a monthly or biweekly “maintenance” injections. Instead of giving 18 injections a year (7 doses plus once a month) you only need to give 14 shots total per year ( two 7 dose series).

There is a shortage of Adequan in the US that is expected to last until the end of the summer. We have a large inventory of the product that we have available for our clients. Due to our limited supply we must limit purchases to one box per client. If you have any other questions on why some medications cost more in Canada than in the USA please let us know.

Mike Pownall DVM

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