Pet Med Express withdraws from NAVC

Critics of Pet Med Express and online pharmacies will have an opportunity to discuss the rising phenomenon of Internet pharmacies at this year’s North American Veterinary Conference (NAVC).

In what they are calling a commitment to education, the NAVC plans to host a panel discussion about Pet Med Express and its practices the evening of Jan. 15, 2012. A representative from Pet Med Express will be in attendance along with industry and professional authorities.

NAVC Executive Director Colin Burrows said the panel discussion is intended to generate educational discourse about Internet pharmacies.

"We…invite all concerned members of the profession to attend and share their concerns about Pet Med Express and its practices and about Internet pharmacies in general," Burrows said on the NAVC website.

Originally slated to be an exhibitor and sponsor at the 2012 NAVC, Pet Med Express recently withdrew its involvement from the conference in response to outrage and backlash from veterinarians attending the conference.

Pet Med Express approached the NAVC in September 2011, requesting to sponsor part of the scientific program and to exhibit it in the conference exhibit halls. After Burrows presented the proposal to the executive board, the board approved the application.

"Obviously the name of this company and its past practices hit a nerve with several members of the profession when they received our email blast," Burrows said. "We therefore discussed the matter with the company and it decided to withdraw."

Pet Med Express has received widespread criticism from veterinarians who feel that the online pharmacy threatens the health of veterinary practices by offering bargain prices on pet medications and products consumers would normally purchase from their veterinarian.

Burrows said company representatives assured the NAVC that they wished to improve its relationship with the veterinary profession.

"NAVC has received numerous comments from concerned veterinarians with regard to the announcement that Pet Med Express was to be a new exhibitor and sponsor at the NAVC Conference 2012," Burrows said. "I would like to relate that we appreciate and respect your concerns."

According to Burrows, the company voluntarily chose to withdraw as both an exhibitor and sponsor.

"The NAVC is committed to education," Burrows said. "It is our belief that airing this controversy falls well within that mission."

The panel discussion is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 15 in the Gaylord Hotel’s Tampa Room. It will be chaired by past NAVC President Doug Mader.

The NAVC will be held Jan. 14, 2012 through Jan. 17, 2012 in Orlando, Fla.