Online pet pharmacy thrives against big competitors

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Pharmacy technician Megan McCann pours pills into a bottle as she fills an order at VetRxDirect in Coralville on Wednesday. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

CORALVILLE — William Gay got the idea for his business, VetRxDirect, while watching the Super Bowl years ago.

“During half-time I was dozing off on the sofa when an advertisement came in for one of our competitors and they basically denounced the veterinary profession,” he recalled.

“I’m a vet and didn’t agree with their marketing, so I thought I’d try to do something to get my colleagues to present us in a better light.”

This came at a time, he said, “when many consumers were beginning to consider shopping online for savings and convenience. I knew absolutely nothing about running an online pharmacy or internet business, but I wanted to give it a shot. »

After taking a business course at the University of Iowa, Gay applied for his first state pharmacy license and VetRxDirect was born.

“We started with three people back then and only had a few orders the first day,” Gay said of that start in 2007. “Now we ship between 500 and 900 packages a day.”

The Company is an online pet pharmacy for dogs and cats offering prescription and over-the-counter medications and supplements. It’s been headquartered in Coralville since the beginning — though it operated until recently under a non-competition for the Iowa market — and now employs 15-20 people and ships prescriptions to 49. States.

“We have a very strong line of non-prescription supplements if people want to try it in different situations for their pets,” Gay said.

Although they work directly with consumers, Gay said they also strive to create good working relationships with veterinarians across the country when they need to get approvals for prescriptions.

“We are smaller than huge competitors and try to answer the phone in a timely manner to help people,” he said. “We like to say that we provide good old-fashioned service.”

Pharmacist Shawn Roe (right) speaks with University of Iowa pharmacy student Lucas Dinh at VetRxDirect, 1900 James St., in Coralville, Iowa, Wednesday, May 18, 2022. The drug supplier for animals has been in business since 2007. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

Because Gay is a practicing veterinarian — as he has been for the past four decades — he is not permitted by Iowa pharmacy code to get involved in the day-to-day operations of the business. and relies on its director and pharmacy technicians.

“Even though we work with dogs and cats, we have to follow the same rules as if it were a human pharmacy,” he explained.

VetRxDirect

Owner: Guillaume Gay

Address: 1900 James Street, Suite 11, Coralville

Call: (866) 761-6578

Website: vetrxdirect.com

Business has grown steadily over the past 15 years, he said.

“It’s just a way of life for everything anymore,” Gay said of online shopping. “People just like to have things delivered to their doorstep. They love this convenience.

“During the pandemic when it first hit, we were working double shifts at night due to the incredible demand. We did our best to stay open and took precautions to keep COVID out, as we were just extremely busy during this time providing people with the medicine animals need.

But it also comes with challenges.

“Being an internet business is extremely competitive,” Gay said. “We have had new pet pharmacies on the internet that are on par with the prices. So it keeps us on our toes daily, trying to stay competitive with companies that are much, much bigger than us.

“We are probably the smallest internet pet pharmacy in the United States.”

But they haven’t faced too many supply chain issues.

“Once in a while we will come across something that someone has been ordering for their pet for five years, and then all of a sudden the pharmaceutical company will say it is not available. ‘get wherever we can,’ Gay said.

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Certified pharmacy technician Jane Gressang (left) reviews a customer’s order as she speaks with pharmacy student Lucas Dinh at VetRxDirect, 1900 James St., in Coralville, Iowa, Wednesday, May 18 2022. The pet medicine supplier has been in business since 2007. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

Photographs of animal customers are seen on a notice board at VetRxDirect, 1900 James St., in Coralville, Iowa, Wednesday, May 18, 2022. The animal medicine supplier has been in business since 2007. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette )

Hanna Wallace fills a box with a customer’s medication at VetRxDirect, 1900 James St., in Coralville, Iowa, on Wednesday, May 18, 2022. The business also includes a treat made by nearby Woofables Gourmet Dog Bakery . The pet medicine supplier has been in business since 2007. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

Pharmacy technician Megan McCann counts pills as she fills an order at VetRxDirect, 1900 James St., in Coralville, Iowa on Wednesday, May 18, 2022. The pet medication supplier has been in business since 2007. (Jim Slosiarek /The Gazette)

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