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FYI- Internet Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act

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Regulation came into effect April 15, 2009.


The Ryan Haight Bill

The Internet Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act counters the growing sale of prescription drugs over the Internet without a valid prescription by (1) providing new disclosure standards for Internet pharmacies; (2) barring Internet sites from selling or dispensing prescription drugs to consumers who are provided a prescription solely on the basis of an online questionnaire; and (3) allowing state attorneys general to go to federal court to shut down rogue sites.

The bill is geared to counter domestic Internet pharmacies that sell drugs without a valid prescription, not international pharmacies that sell drugs at a low cost to individuals who have a valid prescription from their U.S. doctors.

The Need for Legislation

Purchasing drugs online without a valid prescription can be simple: a consumer just types the name of the drug into a search engine, quickly identifies a site selling the medication, fills in a brief questionnaire, and then clicks to purchase. The risks of self-medicating, however, can include potential adverse reactions from inappropriately prescribed medications, dangerous drug interactions, use of counterfeit or tainted products, and addiction to habit-forming substances. Several of these illegitimate sites fail to provide information about contraindications, potential adverse effects, and efficacy.

Regulating these Internet pharmacies is difficult for federal and state authorities. State medical and pharmacy boards have expressed the concern that they do not have adequate enforcement tools to regulate practice over the Internet. It can be virtually impossible for states to identify, investigate, and prosecute these illegal pharmacies because the consumer, prescriber, and seller of a drug may be located in different states.

The Internet Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act

The Internet Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act amends the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to address this problem in three steps. First, it requires Internet pharmacy websites to display information identifying the business, pharmacist, and physician associated with the website.

Second, the bill bars the selling or dispensing of a prescription drug via the Internet when the website has referred the customer to a doctor who then writes a prescription without ever seeing the patient.

Third, the bill provides states with new enforcement authority modeled on the Federal Telemarketing Sales Act that will allow a state attorney general to shut down a rogue site across the country, rather than only bar sales to consumers of his or her state.


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