Regulatory Focus™ > News Articles > US Agency Launches Investigation Into Veterinary Pharmaceutical Industry

US Agency Launches Investigation Into Veterinary Pharmaceutical Industry

Posted 29 June 2012 | By Alexander Gaffney, RAC 

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is announcing an investigation into competitive issues in the veterinary pharmaceuticals market after concerns were raised to it regarding the pricing of medications and possible anti-competitive issues.

"American consumers spend a tremendous amount of money on medications for their pets every year," FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz explained in a statement. "High prices on these medications mean that consumers have less money for necessities. It's important that these medications are safe and effective, and that pet owners get the benefits of a fair and robust marketplace."

In a corresponding Federal Register notice, FTC said its end goal is to ensure consumers "obtain the highest quality and most cost-effective healthcare products for their pets."

FTC said it complaints have been brought to its attention regarding whether secondary suppliers and retailers are receiving genuine products, "raising potential questions about product safety and authenticity."

The agency unanimously agreed to conduct a workshop exploring 13 competitive issues:

  • How are pet medications distributed to consumers?   
  • What are the business rationales for various pet medication distribution practices? 
  • How has competition to sell medications to pet owners evolved in light of these distribution practices?
  • How do these practices affect prices to consumers?
  • How do these practices affect product supply and quality?
  • How do these practices affect consumer choice?
  • How do these practices affect entry into the pet medications market?
  • How do these practices affect innovation in the pet medications market?
  • What efficiencies or inefficiencies are associated with these practices?  
  • What, if any, product safety or counterfeiting issues exist with respect to these practices? 
  • Have there been instances in which false or misleading information about product safety risks was disseminated to consumers?
  • Are there other factors that should be considered when analyzing the competition and consumer protection issues related to the distribution of pet medications?
  • Are there other factors that should be considered when analyzing the competition and consumer protection issues related to the distribution of pet medications?

"Among other issues, the workshop will consider … [consumers'] ability to verify the safety and effectiveness of the pet medications they buy," FTC wrote.

The provisions-safety and effectiveness-may ultimately delve into regulatory issues related to marketing practices, which the FTC has oversight over. The agency has traditionally worked closely with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to identify and go after manufacturers guilty of marketing deficiencies, but they do not go after veterinary product manufacturers nearly as often as they do manufacturers of human medicines.


Read more:

FTC - FTC Announces Pet Medications Workshop; Will Explore Competition and Consumer Protection Issues Related to the Pet Medications Industry

FTC - Workshop on Pet Medications Issues


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