New Jersey Investigators Crack Down on Online Prescription Sales
New Jersey has sued two online pharmacies, Phoenix-based RB Drugstores and Nassau, Bahamas-based Rx Leader, for "unlawfully peddling prescription drugs" over the Internet after an eight-month investigation by the state's E-Commerce Investigation Unit, the Bergen Record reports. Filed in Essex County Superior Court, the two separate suits allege the companies practiced medicine and dispensed prescription drugs without licenses in New Jersey. In addition, the suit says the companies filled orders without requiring "valid prescriptions" or "physical examinations" of their customers. The lawsuits are the "latest in a string" of charges the "cybercops" have filed. State Attorney General John Farmer said, "People who turn to such sites for prescriptions could well be risking their health and well-being. There are simply no guarantees that the 'person' on the other end is a licensed and qualified professional" (DeMarrais, Bergen Record, 12/21).
The Texas Health Care Information Council has posted a public database of "what illnesses strike Texans, how they are treated and which approaches are successful," the Austin American-Statesman reports. The database is the first statistical information available for Texans to use to make health care choices. With 1.2 million records, the report covers the first six months of 1999 and ranks "common illnesses statewide by gender and age." The database does not include hospital specific information, but the council plans to release such information on computer disks. Hospital administrators and physician are the "likely users" of the information, but it could be used by employers to choose hospitals for their insurance plans (Austin American-Statesman, 12/20).
One year after News Corporation paid $1 billion for a 10.8% stake in WebMD, the value of the media company's holdings in the online health service has "plummeted" to about $133.6 million, the New York Times reports. Now, News Corporation is hesitant to complete the rest of the agreement reached last year, which includes purchasing WebMD's interests in the cable television station Health Channel. Negotiations between the two firms are continuing (Fabrikant, New York Times, 12/21).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.