House Panel Requests Information From Three Physicians About Online Prescribing Activities
In an expansion of its probe into Internet pharmacies, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations has sent letters to three physicians requesting information about prescriptions they wrote through online pharmacies, subcommittee Chair Jim Greenwood (R-Pa.) said Monday, CongressDaily reports. The letters were sent to a Florida physician who allegedly worked for myprivatedrugstore.com and wrote online prescriptions for a patient who overdosed and died; a New Jersey physician who allegedly prescribed drugs without ever seeing patients; and a Florida doctor who allegedly prescribed medication through viamedic.com for a news anchor posing as a patient (Albanesius, CongressDaily, 2/10). The letters requested that the doctors detail their involvement with Internet pharmacies -- including how many prescriptions they have written, which drugs they have prescribed and how much they were paid for their services -- to determine if the sites "provide a service to consumers safely and in compliance with all state and federal laws or whether the conduct related to these Web sites is illustrative of a growing public health threat" (Orr, Newark Star-Ledger, 2/10). The physicians have until Feb. 27 to respond to the inquiries (CongressDaily, 2/10). Last month, the committee sent a similar letter to a New Jersey physician who has written thousands of prescriptions for several different online pharmacies (California Healthline, 1/20). The committee's probe of Internet pharmacies is "picking up steam," and hearings are expected this spring, according to Ken Johnson, a spokesperson for the committee (Newark Star-Ledger, 2/10). In December, the committee asked executives at MasterCard International, Visa International, FedEx and United Parcel Service of America to explain how their firms recognize and counter illicit Internet pharmacies that use their services (California Healthline, 12/10/03).
Spokespersons for Reps. Charlie Norwood (R-Ga.) and Tom Davis (R-Va.) said that the lawmakers this week will introduce separate bills to curb illegal online pharmacy sales. Davis will introduce legislation that would establish what information Internet pharmacies must provide and would allow state attorneys general to shut down sites with improper sales practices, according to CongressDaily (CongressDaily, 2/10). In addition, at least two Senate panels are investigating online pharmacies and planning hearings, the Star-Ledger reports (Newark Star-Ledger, 2/10).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.