Years ago I worked as a receptionist at a veterinarian office. While working there I got a few sit downs with a Merial representative and listened to the sales pitch and the pros of the product (and received samples) and listened to the how and why of that they distribute ONLY to vets.
Also while working there I saw too many cats rushed in by fretful owners because they were having serious reaction to OTC flea products. I watched the kitties suffer, I watched the owners suffer, I saw the bill when all was said and done..
Not to mention the counterfeit Frontline mess.
So I would always tell people to buy their flea and heart worm products from the vet. The makers of these products guarantee them but ONLY if you buy them from a vet. If you try to save a few bucks and end up with heart worms, the company will not pay for the treatment, but will if you have a history of buying them through your vet. Also vets have promotions that often make it similar in cost (buy so many get some free etc)
Then I started seeing Frontline at the local mega pet stores. This was after I stopped working for the vet, and I thought I heard that Merial was now selling directly to them, so I changed my recommendations slightly in that people really should stay away from OTC products like Hartz..
but now I see on the VIN that Merial still says they don't sell to these OTC places..
The article that I read at the VIN website is very interesting. I too was always told that Merial does monitor vets for redistribution, but according to the article they don't really. While I can understand the reasoning discussed, I fear that it simply opens the door (or keeps the door open might be more accurate) to more counterfeit products entering the system and putting our pets at risk. If Merial and Bayer really want to keep control over their product and their name, why are they not suing these companies that sell it with out the company's OK? If reselling a product isn't illegal, then why don't they put stickers or stamps on the products with the name of the vet they were shipped to so they could see first hand who was selling to secondary markets?? I'm guessing because they don't really care.. the product is being sold and that's more profit for them.
I have been very lucky in that I haven't needed to treat for years. The last time I did I did buy flea products on the internet simply because Jack needs Advantage (his fur is so fine, and a large dose of Frontline isn't able to protect him, but a regular dose of Advantage does) and no one locally sells the large dog Advantage (most sell Advantage II which has ingredients I'm not OK with putting on my cat not to mention you can't purchase the large dog size and split it among your cats like you can Advantage and Frontline Plus since the ingredients are the same. The shelters have been doing this for years, and even the Merial rep said it was recommended for larger cats to use the small dog size vial - something you can ONLY do with these two products.. all other dog flea products are TOXIC to cats.. )
Many people buy these safer products from the secondary market and have no problems. If you choose to be aware they did not come directly from the manufacturer. That counterfeit products are out there, and that if you have problems the makers of these products only stand behind them if you bought them directly from a vet.
When I need to buy more Advantage, I'm going to find a vet who does mail order.. and not some big fancy website that says they are vets or can sell it to me (especially if they have a limit of product they will sell at one time) Fortunately my vet sells Frontline, and I prefer to support his business when I can.
Edited to add that I kept reading the 13 part series VIN did on this, and apparently Bayer who makes Advantage does sell directly to retail outlets.. good to know!