CAMLAW: Complementary and Alternative Medicine Law Blog

Online Prescriptions Styled Public Health Threat

The Chicago Accident Law Blog takes up the argument that Internet prescription drug overdoses are a threat to public health in the United States.

'Medical malpractice and product liability suits against the internet pharmacies, physicians who prescribe without a valid physician-patient relationship, and the pharmaceutical companies themselves currently are the only effective means to halt this public health threat.....

Deaths from drugs manufactured by pharmaceutical companies, sold by pharmacies (internet and traditional), and frequently approved by physicians accounted for more accidental overdose deaths than from street drugs, such as heroin. Troubling, you bet!

According to a recent study by the Partnership for a Drug Free America, today's teens are more likely to abuse prescription and over the counter medications, than illegal drugs. These drugs can be purchased over the internet or over the counter. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University reported in 2006 that 9 out of 10 internet sites selling controlled prescription drugs do NOT require a prescription.'

Online technology has found a way to avoid regulatory control. One step would be to tighten Internet regulation:

'The Internet Pharmacy Consumer Act would have required: (1) name, address, and telephone number of the internet site to be displayed on each site; (2) the names of the states where the internet pharmacy is licensed; (3) the names of the pharmacists employed and the states in which they are licensed; and (4) if medical online consultations offered, the name of the physician reviewing the online questionnaire and the states in which that physician is licensed.

This legislation would clearly have been a good first step in combating the plague that internet pharmacies are visiting on our communities by facilitating drug overdoses and fatalities. With simple disclosure requirements for Internet sites such as names, addresses and medical and pharmacy licensing information, patients will be better off and state medical and pharmacy boards can ensure that pharmacists and doctors are properly licensed. One can only wonder if the multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical industry had anything to do with the defeat of this reasonable legislation.'

The blogger advocates instituting legislation with a balancing test, including weighing the interests of online pharmacies.

The key, of course, would be adequately funding a federal regulatory agency to enforce such legislation -- or perhaps looking toward an international convention, since online activities cross national boundaries.

Law Offices of Michael H. Cohen offers general corporate legal services, litigation consultation, and expertise in health law with a unique focus on alternative, complementary, and integrative medical therapies.

Michael H. Cohen is Principal in Law Offices of Michael H. Cohen and also President of the Institute for Integrative and Energy Medicine (also known as the Institute for Health, Ethics, Law, Policy & Society), a forum for exploration of legal, regulatory, ethical, and health policy issues involved in the judicious integration of complementary and alternative medical therapies (such as acupuncture and traditional oriental medicine, chiropractic, massage therapy, herbal medicine) and conventional clinical care. The most recent published book by Michael H. Cohen on health care law, regulation, ethics and policy pertaining to complementary, alternative and integrative medicine and related fields is Healing at the Borderland of Medicine and Religion. This is the fourth book in a series, following Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Legal Boundaries and Regulatory Perspectives (1998), Beyond Complementary Medicine: Legal and Ethical Perspectives on Health Care and Human Evolution (2000), and Future Medicine: Ethical Dilemmas, Regulatory Challenges, and Therapeutic Pathways to Health Care and Healing in Human Transformation (2003).

Health care and corporate lawyer Michael H. Cohen has also been admitted to the Bar of England and Wales as a Solicitor (non-practicing), adding to Bar membership in four U.S. states.

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Michael H. Cohen, Esq.; 468 North Camden Dr. | Beverly Hills, California 90210 | 310-844-3173