Barking for Alternatives

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Generic is not necessarily basic

Pet owners may pause (or paws) to consider the brand of flea-and-tick medications that they administer to their dogs or cats.  In a recent consumer protection-related lawsuit, exclusivity contracts are allegedly to blame for the lack of variety in widespread drug products available to pet owners.  According to the claim, if given the fair opportunity to purchase generic options, consumers of Advantage II and K9 Advantix II topical flea-and-tick treatments could have saved a lot of money.  As the patent guidelines diminished within the appropriate timeframe, generic brands became available to the market about six years ago.

Some of the big-name stores and marketplaces, such as Petco, PetSmart, Chewy.com, and PetMed Express do not carry or offer the generic brands for purchase, and instead, limit their consumers to specific varieties that have increased the customers’ overall spending by hundreds of dollars.  Generic brand companies allege that this design is not by accident and is actually a ploy to eliminate the competition.  Tevra Brands is one company that is making this claim and is accusing Bayer Animal Health of employing such monopoly-defined tactics.  Tevra is alleging that Bayer is intentionally preventing consumers from locating a favorable deal where they are most likely to shop for their sought-after flea-and-tick protection products.

One company that does sell the generic options is Amazon, which markets Tevra medications for $30, compared to the name brand price of $64 sold on Chewy.com.  While the medications are comparable, the prices are vastly different.  The reasoning for why this alleged monopoly has gone on for so long is the restriction surrounding insurance.  For example, the health insurance that covers people requires generic, low-price alternatives.  Pet insurance, however, is not as prevalent as human health insurance, which leaves the chance for greater manipulation of the market.  Specifically, exclusivity agreements between top pet drug manufacturers and their vendors prevent certain stores or online retailers from selling competing medications or treatments.