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Veterinarians face off against PetMed Express
Panel, audience debate company's business strategies at NAVC after protest over exhibition plans


DVM360 MAGAZINE


"We got some interesting insight from vets, but one of the things we got out of this was that veterinarians really just wanted to be heard. They wanted to let us know what their feelings were," Levengood says. "We had a lot of vets come up to us after the panel was done and just thank us and say 'we never had this opportunity to talk directly to you.' "

But Donaldson says the issue spurred a national dialogue among veterinarians—something that she doesn't think happens often enough.

"I did feel like it was a victory for the profession," she says. "It was really cool the way the profession came together nationwide in such a short time.

"I think (PetMed Express) is aware that vets are going to stand up a little bit," Donaldson adds. "I think the awareness is up; the profession kind of bonded over it."

Mader says PetMed Express deserves credit for facing veterinarians on their own turf and tackling the issues at hand.

"I was playing Switzerland in this whole argument. I have my opinions, and I'm not going to share them. There was a lot of pretty harsh rhetoric back and forth but that's to be expected," he says. "But you have to give them props because they got stoned the whole time (and) they handled it very well; they were very professional."

Levengood says the company also is planning to move forward with a suggestion made by Mader during the panel discussion to form a veterinary focus group to guide the company in the future.

Mader says the company will have a face-to-face meeting with a group of up to 20 veterinarians to screen and comment on PedMeds' new advertisements before they air.

"To me, that's a win, that's very positive," he says.

Overall, though, veterinarians were positive about the panel experience. Levengood says she received calls and emails from veterinarians thanking her as has Mader.

"I got nothing but positive feedback thanking us for having the panel and thanking us for letting people voice their concerns," Mader adds.

Now the question will be what PetMed Express does with its new knowledge about its relationship with veterinarians and how veterinarians respond to inevitable changes in the way they do business.

"Veterinarians need to look at the writing on the wall. If that new Fairness to Pet Owners Act passes—and it will once they clean up the language—we will no longer be able to dictate that clients buy medications from us," Mader says. "Veterinarians are going to have to adjust and make a living being veterinarians, not pharmacists."


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Source: DVM360 MAGAZINE,
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