Mailorder Drugs

Posted By John Coletti || 10-Mar-2009

I know plenty of people who have ordered medications online from Canadian pharmacies and the like. I myself have ordered allergy medications from New Zealand, medications that require a prescription here in the United States but are available over the counter in other countries. I never considered this to be dangerous, since I was familiar with the medications and I am responsible when it comes to medications. This is a somewhat different situation, but in California a Colorado doctor was recently convicted of practicing medicine illegally. A college student in California ordered antidepressants (a generic form of Prozac) over the Internet, and the Colorado doctor is the one who approved the sale (in other words, he “prescribed” the medication). Because the doctor did not have a California license, he was accused of practicing illegally. The case is significant because it allows for the county to prosecute doctors in another state.

The college student ended up committing suicide, and traces of the drugs were found in his system. The drugs did not, however, cause the death. The issue here is that the student was able to easily order the prescription drugs online. He was required to complete a questionnaire about his medical need for the drugs and had to answer questions about his mental state. Despite a history of depression, the student claimed he was not suicidal. The Colorado doctor who filled the prescription had no contact with the student. In other words, there was no “examination” and thus no actual diagnosis.

Those opposed to the conviction believe it gives California too much power and the ability to regulate online medicine providers. What if you move to California but wish to retain your old physician, who is licensed to practice in his state but not California? Can he be convicted, too, of practicing medicine illegally? Those in favor of the conviction say online doctors pose a danger to the public and should be held to the same medical standards as doctors in California.

What do you think? Should there be more oversight of the “telemedicine” industry? Who is responsible when prescription medication gets into the wrong hands?