Friday, June 27, 2008

DEA seeks new restrictions on Internet pharmacies

Illicit Internet pharmacies are helping abusers obtain controlled drugs such as the anti-anxiety medication Xanax, the painkiller Vicodin and anabolic steroids, the Drug Enforcement Administration told a House subcommittee on Tuesday.

The DEA wants Congress to require that drugs be sold over the Internet only on the basis of "valid prescriptions" that are written after face-to-face medical evaluations or, under special circumstances, through telemedicine.

Patrick Egan, a Philadelphia lawyer who specializes in Internet pharmacy regulations, countered that the DEA's proposed requirements would impose a hardship on rural and poor patients who use Internet pharmacies to reduce prescription drug costs. Telemedicine might solve part of the problem, he said, but not for patients who can't afford a consultation.

Other witnesses before the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security said that federal regulation of Internet drug sites is needed. State regulations vary widely, said William Winsley, the executive director of the Ohio State Board of Pharmacy, and illicit Internet drug site operators seek out the least regulated ones.


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