How much does Vetmedin (pimobendan) cost? Is there a shortage?

Answered by Rebecca Farley | Reviewed by a licensed U.S. pharmacist | Posted April 14, 2020

Most pet owners know that pet medicine, like human medicine, can be exceedingly expensive. Thankfully, Vetmedin (pimobendan), a veterinary drug used for pets suffering from congenital heart failure, is not one of those drugs. Whether you’re shopping at your local vet clinic or at an accredited online pharmacy, fifty tablets of Vetmedin should cost you around $50 (approximately $1 per pill). The issue with pimobendan is not, in fact, the price; it’s the availability. The drug is actually facing a shortage due to a processing issue at the factory where the drug is made.

 

Vetmedin (pimobendan) Shortages

 

In the past six months, many pet owners have discovered the drug that prevents heart failure in their best friend has been suddenly backordered. In September 2019, the manufacturer of the drug requested that no new patients be prescribed Vetmedin to ensure current patients could still have access to the limited drug.

 

According to a representative of Boehringer Ingelheim, the producer of the drug, Vetmedin is on allocation, which means clinics may only stock limited quantities of it. Your veterinarian should contact the customer care department at 1-888-637-4251 to see what the allotted amount is for their clinic. The Boehringer Ingelheim representative added that the drug is on allocation due to changes at the manufacturing site, not due to drug quality issues.

 

Many dogs still need Vetmedin, though. In this case, purchasing from an online pharmacy is not a matter of saving money: It is a matter of finding the medication at all. In the U.S., Vetmedin costs less than $1.00 per tablet, which is comparable to prices at accredited international pharmacies. The generic, though, which is not available in the U.S., is cheaper abroad, going for as low as $0.78 per tablet.

 

Compare U.S. vs. International Vetmedin (pimobendan) Prices

Drug (generic name) Strength Quantity Approximate Average U.S. Retail Price Lowest Accredited International Pharmacy Price
Vetmedin (pimobendan) 1.25 mg 100 tablets $90.90 $90.95
Pimobendan (generic) 1.25 mg 100 tablets Generic version is not available in the United States $89.00
Vetmedin (pimobendan) 5 mg 100 tablets $167.90 $154.95
Pimobendan (generic) 5 mg 100 tablets Generic version is not available in the United States $77.52

Sources: Average U.S. Retail Price calculated based on pricing on GoodRx.com. Lowest Accredited International Pharmacy Price based on prices listed on PharmacyChecker.com.

Pet Medication Doses

In the case of pet medication, the dose is very important. Dogs come in a range of sizes, and their medication doses should match their body weight. Unfortunately, in the case of Vetmedin, the availability of the drug changes with the dose. The 1.25mg dose, which would be for smaller dogs, is not widely available in the generic iteration abroad. (The recommended dosage for Vetmedin is 0.5mg per 1 kilogram of body weight.) The bigger doses, like the 5mg, will be much easier to find. If you are hoping to obtain the 5mg to administer a smaller dose yourself, consult your veterinarian before doing so.

What is pimobendan?

Pimobendan is a treatment for congenital heart failure (CHM) in dogs. It effectively widens blood vessels so that your pet’s heart has an easier time pushing blood throughout their system. When prescribed, tablets are to be taken twice per day, twelve hours apart, and on an empty stomach. This means giving your pet their medicine before they eat their morning meal so their body may absorb the medication more easily.

My local vet no longer carries Vetmedin. What are some alternatives?

If you cannot find Vetmedin at either your local veterinarian or at an accredited online pharmacy, talk to your vet about substitutions. There are many different drugs that treat heart failure, though not all of them have been formulated to treat domestic animals. The medications enalapril, lisinopril, and benazepril, all of which are selective ACE-inhibitors, can be used to treat heart failure in dogs. Studies have suggested that Vetmedin allows for a better quality of life (QOL) in its patients than ACE-inhibitors do. Vetmedin, as with other high-demand drugs, is fairly new: The Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) only approved Vetmedin for treatment of congestive heart failure in 2007. Do not switch medications without first talking to your vet.

My vet can no longer supply Vetmedin. Can I cease dosage?

Continue to administer Vetmedin for as long as your veterinarian directs. Do not skip or stop doses without consulting your veterinarian.

If you are concerned about your supply of Vetmedin, call your vet immediately to discuss replacement options.

What are some of the side effects of Vetmedin (pimobendan)?

Boehringer Ingelheim, the producer of the drug, lists the following side effects as commonly associated with Vetmedin: poor appetite, lethargy, diarrhea, dyspnea, azotemia, weakness and ataxia, pleural effusion, syncope, cough, sudden death, ascites, and heart murmur. Note that, in general, most dogs have no reactions to Vetmedin.

Are drug shortage a common issue with pet medication?

Shortages are common in both human medication and pet medicine, an issue that the FDA oversees. In fact, the Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) works with the FDA to determine if backordered medications are MNVPs: Medically Necessary Veterinary Products. If indeed a medication is deemed an MNVP, the CVM can create an “action plan” to ensure the drug makes it to market. As of right now, the CVM is not dealing with the Vetmedin shortage. Any consumer can email the CVM about drug shortages at AskCVM@fda.hhs.gov. Take action!

Where is pimobendan manufactured?

Per the label, Vetmedin (pimobendan) sold in the U.S. is made in Mexico for Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc.

vetmedin manufacturing

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