How to keep prescription drug costs for horses under control.

It’s bad enough paying for prescription drugs for family members. At least for most of them, our insurance covers part of the cost.

Horses, well, that’s another story. For one thing, they are so large that the dosages are huge (think 90 pills/day of Doxycycline to treat my Trakehner when we thought he had Lyme).

The other issue is that when you buy drugs through your vet, they typically include a mark up. Now, I’m not saying that vets shouldn’t do that — they aren’t buying in large quantities, so they don’t get the best prices to begin with and they are providing a service. After all, having them bring the medication you need with them on the farm call is hugely convenient.  I do buy the odd container of bute, or enough SMZs to get my horse’s treatment started, but for lengthy treatment regimes, the costs are just way too high. It definitely pays to shop around, even if you have to pay a ‘script fee and shipping. My vet charges $20 to write a prescription that is good for a year.

Here are a couple of examples. I am using my vet as an example, but not because I want to single them out. They are not making a lot of money from providing the drugs, but they are not the low cost supplier by any means.

  • Doxycycline tablets, quantity of 500. $80 from the vet; $55 from SmartPak; $49 from Allivet; and even less from Costco (when I last checked).
  • Banamine paste. $30 from the vet; $24 from SmartPak; $23 from Allivet. When Kroni was sick last fall, I think I used 5 tubes of Banamine.
  • Adequan, 7 vials. $300 from the vet; $299 from SmartPak; $289 from Allivet.
  • Chondroprotec per vial (3 vials, 2 treatments). $170 from the vet; $162 from Allivet.
  • SMZs (500).  $85 from the vet; 72.95 from SmartPak; $60 from Allivet.

I use SmarkPak frequently because of their proximity. Even with standard shipping if I order before 2 p.m. I receive the item the next day whereas from Allivet UPS ground shipping is three days in transit. So, when I’m facing the need for another tube of banamine, it’s highly convenient to order it from SmartPak.

Since I am part of a co-op barn, one of the ways that the boarders co-operate is by sharing prescriptions for basic items like Bute, SMZs, Banamine, and such. That makes it easy for us to keep supplies on hand and replacements are quickly obtained because of the ease of local shipping.

4 thoughts on “How to keep prescription drug costs for horses under control.

  1. Barn sharing is a great idea. I remember thinking I needed an extra part-time job to pay for Adequan for my 18-year-old mare. It kept her spry, though! Totally worth it. But I always thought about those who couldn’t afford that outrageous price tag.

  2. Thanks for the information regarding the cost of prescriptions. I am working on a project trying to make some more common medications available over the counter, in hopes to lower costs. You info is useful.

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