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Walmart launches pet pharmacy, opening more in-store clinics

The retail giant estimates it will save consumers 40 to 60 percent on vaccines and exams

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Walmart says it is launching its first pet pharmacy and opening more in-store veterinary clinics.

“These clinics offer affordable, high quality, and convenient services to save customers as much as 40 to 60 percent on vaccines and minor illness packages and exams,” the company wrote on its website.

The news comes at a time when private practices are already competing with online pharmacy retailers that are digging into their revenue.

According to Walmart, it will provide low-cost prescriptions for dogs, cats, horses, and livestock through WalmartPetRx.com. The website will offer more than 300 brands to treat conditions such as flea and tick, heartworm, allergy, and arthritis, which are main sources of income for veterinarians. Walmart will also offer home delivery. The option to pick up pet prescriptions in-store will be available later this month, as the retailer is stocking more than 4,500 of its pharmacies with the 30 most requested pet medications.

Walmart says it will be opening nine new clinics in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, Tex., in late May and June. It has plans to expand to more than 100 locations over the next 12 months.

25 thoughts on “Walmart launches pet pharmacy, opening more in-store clinics

  1. The ONLY reason they can offer lower prices on items is because they are an enormous company and can buy in bulk for the lowest possible price. This will help to destroy private veterinary hospitals. This will end up raising prices on sick and emergency care.

    1. Sadly there are not very many “private” practices around anymore. Most are owned by big corporations, but the clients don’t know it.

  2. Vets refused to change their their business model. So guess what, competition happened.
    You say you run a business? Then compete! You can’t have it both ways. Protectionism is not the same as competition.

    1. You cant compete price wise when you dont have the volume buying power they have. Its an unfair advantage and yes services will go up if pharmacies are lost so that small businesses and keep loyal staff and “compete” with the consolidation companies that are offering crazy salaries and benefits that small guys cant cover without increasing prices. Being a small hospital these days is getting to be harder and harder to keep their doors open.

      1. Actually.many veterinary practices have joined veterinary buying groups, benefiting from bulk prices, while maintaining their independent ownership. Unfortunately,those veterinarians did not pass on the savings to their customers, and as a result, their customers started looking for less expensive alternatives.

    2. You can’t compete when Walmart sells a product for less than a private than a private practitioner pays for at their cost. Bottom-line is that in order to keep the doors open and the staffed paid, the cost of services will increase.

    3. People in general want to pay the least amount for an item or a service. So…..big business companies jumped on that “demand”. As a result, our small business owners have thrown in the towel or joined a corporation. Small businesses can’t compete when people go to the big box stores, Amazon to give them their business all the while complaining about the prices of privately owned veterinary practices. Being in the veterinary field with private owners for many years”competing” with national /world corp. is very difficult. What I know is I worked with the most intelligent, kind, giving, and absorb the deficits in income to help their patients as much as possible. Sorry, I’m very protective in this particular industry.

    4. Oh well Ca, its a race to the bottom then. It costs to maintain minimum standard of care and clients have expectations of high level of expertise, successful results and low to negligible cost , they cant have it both ways either. There will be a lot of poorly qualified vets providing these services, paid little by the big W. You get what you pay for. The USA cant even deliver healthcare to all its citizens, this will be a mess too. W wants the cream but aren’t going to provide emergency care.In real vet practice, routine care offsets the high cost of providing emergency care, take that away and emergencies will have to skyrocket to pay to open those doors everyday.Good luck with that, Ca, you are the worst type of pet owner

  3. Relax
    I used to work with Walmart at a executive level and they are not prepared for the price of DVMs and RVTs and support staff nor the small margins that exams, labs and their prices will bring in. Some executives looked at some published numbers (not recognizing that the W2 often reflects only 3 shifts/week of work) and decided that this was a good investment without recognizing that DVMs and equivalents are different from their traditional employees who are easily replaceable as it’s a unique skill set with a finite employment pool. Anyone who runs hospitals knows that finding the right veterinary team is hard and untrained people just lead to greater liability. Plus, If word gets out that DVMs are making more than Bentonville executives it’s going to be an internal PR issue for them. I agree this is an opportunity for traditional hospitals and maybe we need to have 2 types of exams one for just prescription refills etc and one for sick animals.

    That said, now that high profile deep pockets are involved beware of these changes.
    1. A push for RVTs to be able to prescribe much like PA’s in human medicine.
    2. A change in liability because lots of JD’s will line up sue Walmart for everything and traditional hospitals will be caught in cross hairs.

    1. After reading your comments, I just reaffirmed how scary and how you may/can be replaced by AI.
      Your evaluation was void of emotion about the human workers. The company you work for does not appear to be interested in anything except the bottom line for “the executive level”.
      Oh! There was no mention of the animals’ well being as a result of the potential business decisions lying on the table.

  4. It’s going to take them a LONG time to build up the buying power they’re going to need to offer those lower prices. Manufacturers aren’t going to give them rock-bottom prices when they’re just starting out just because they’re Wal-Mart, and believe me – it’s going to take a lot for them to get the ‘buying power’ that will get them those low prices with animal health manufacturers. If they have rock-bottom prices, there is a darn tootin’ good chance those products are NOT coming from the manufacturer. Buyer beware!!

    1. You are very wrong! They will get a much cheaper price from the beginning as did 1-800 PETMEDS and Chewy once they were able to buy direct from the manufacturer and bypass distributors. For the most part, veterinarians still have to buy through a middle man because they are not large enough to purchase direct. Also, Vets will raise their prices on services to compensate for these losses and you are correct in assuming we are fast approaching a time when veterinary care will no longer be affordable for the masses and insurance will get involved- and we all see how well that works!

    2. Working for a veterinary manufacturer, Walmart will get great prices because they will not only buy in huge quantities, they will commit to long-term contracts, which is what manufacturers really want. Additionally, there is very low risk that they will default. So, they will get great pricing out of the gate. As a huge corporation, they won’t risk selling ill-gotten medication and devices, as the risk to their overall business is too great. Additionally, a lot of veterinarians don’t want to be business owners. The even greater problem is a vet used to be able to graduate and get a loan to buy into or purchase a practice outright. Now, new grads are saddled with $100K+ in school debt. Lenders won’t loan them money until they have been in practice 3 years. Walmart’s greatest competitor will be Mars (like in M&M’s) because they own all of the Banfield in Petsmarts and all of the VCA pet hospitals. Banfield’s model has been lower end clientele and VCA’s has been higher end, so Walmart will have to find it’s place. Walmart is smart enough to hire VCA executives and they will gain traction very quickly.

  5. WalMart pharmacists better be trained in the use/side effects and contraindications of veterinary prescriptions just as they are with human drugs or litigation will surely follow. Once had a Target pharmacist ask me what Heartgard was for.

    1. Yes, and they are not and we had a Walmart Pharmacist interfere and change a dose of TMS for a horse telling the client the dose was much too high? WTF? Lowered it on the label to that for a human. Another one argued that pergolide doesnt do any good for a horse and why would the vet prescribe a medication for human Parkinson’s disease that doesn’t work in humans, to the client? They are stepping way out of their league… big W better get ready for the liability,

      1. Not to mention the dozens of cases of Walmart pharmacies telling clients that some other insulin was just a cheaper version of the insulin they’d been stable on for years, and those pets losing their stable regulation and going into diabetic ketoacidosis because the insulins weren’t equivalent in *pets*. Some of them died. They really don’t understand that pets are different from humans.

        If I were a pharmacist, I’d be worried about the precedent of pet medicine. They always say you need a trained pharmacist to dispense medications, but then when they start dispensing pet meds, they have little to no training in pet pharmacology, and they dispense the pills based on the doctor’s orders without any pharmacist skills involved. Don’t they see that the big boxes can use that as a foot in the door to saying, “See, all they do is count pills, why should we have to have a pharmacist to do that? Anyone can count pills!” They put their own profession in danger when they agree to dispense pet medications without training.

  6. In my opinion, going to Walmart for your pets medical is like going to CVS for your health exam, vs. your doctor.. I think Walmart will dominate the bottom 10 – 15% of pet owners, who will show up with very sick pets, pooping all the way across the parking lot to the ‘value’ DVM….Walmart will have a very large loss over the next 5 – 7 yrs, then close them all down.. Everything Walmart sells is in-animate; remember the emotional connection with pets is strong.. like children, this opens pandora’s box on Walmart staff, who will find Walmart wages not worth the problems in this area by low economic clientele..

  7. Plus get ready for a lot of pets being locked in hot cars, while owners shop.. another disaster that will make headlines

  8. Roman, I agree with you. I was told at a seminar once…There are 2 types of clients: the ones that don’t care about costs because they will pay you and then the ones that don’t care about costs because they don’t have any intention of paying. I wonder what Walmart will do about those clients that agree to services and then can’t pay at checkout.

  9. I guarantee you they will only attract the crappiest vets out there and keep emergency rooms busy fixing their mistakes. Promise it.

    1. Unfortunately, the kids coming out of school right now are $250,000 in debt so companies like Wal-mart, Petco, Banfield,VCA, can attract good Drs. and pay them far more than they are worth with little to no experience leaving the rest of us looking for GOOD Veterinarians OUT IN THE COLD.

      I’ve been doing this for 40 years and I am being courted by 5 different companies trying to buy me. With the 2020elections coming and all the uncertainty surrounding that, plus being unable to find a 3rd Dr to work with me, I am seriously considering selling to a company and slowing my life down.I have a very busy practice and I love most of my clients but trying to compete w the online pharmacies, the pet clinics like PetCo and Banfield and now WAL-mart, I may just bail on the practicce I built from nothing.

      1. Dr. Cohn,
        I’m sorry you’re going through this. It’s a difficult decision, but an understandable one. I hope you negotiate a fair price for your practice. Having worked for VCA, I encourage you to leverage one company against another. In my experience, though, most docs were happy with their sale. Some, however, that continue to work as a vet for their old clinic, do have a hard time adjusting to being an employee and having to use vacation time, etc. I do know that if you go with VCA, the veterinarians get the executive benefits package which is much better than regular employees. I have no skin in the game, as I recently retired. Best of luck to you.

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