Canadian Doctors Warned About Online Prescribing
Canadian physicians who dispense prescriptions to American patients over the Internet may soon face disciplinary action at home, Canada's National Post reports. The Canadian Medical Association, which represents 56,000 physicians throughout Canada, considers the practice to be "so serious" that it is considering changing its code of ethics to condemn physicians who write prescriptions for patients they have not personally examined. According to the National Post, "thousands" of American patients illegally purchase prescriptions from Canadian pharmacies over the Internet, motivated in large part by drug prices 30% to 60% lower than prices in the United States. In addition, physician licensing bodies in the Canadian provinces of Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec announced yesterday that they will not allow physicians to co-sign prescriptions for patients they have never met. Typically, online pharmacies that ship drugs directly to patients first ask the patients to fax prescriptions obtained through their own, American physicians. The prescriptions are then co signed by Canadian physicians. The Canadian Medical Protective Association -- a group whose membership includes 95% of Canadian physicians and which maintains a $2 billion fund for their legal defense -- also has issued a warning to members, stating that the association would be unlikely to back them should they be sued over any medical mishaps that arise from co-signing prescriptions (Arnold, National Post, 12/7).