ONLINE DRUG REGULATION: Does Clinton Plan Go Far Enough?
A White House bill to regulate online prescription drug sales met with mixed reaction Tuesday when it was delivered to Congress, CongressDaily/A.M. reports. Supporters say the legislation is "a step in the right direction toward balancing the opportunities and potential harm posed by the Internet," but other lawmakers worry that the bill "does not go far enough," particularly in regards to the regulation of international pharmacies that sell drugs online in the United States. Rep. Ron Klink (D-Pa.), who offered his own legislation last year, said, "For more than a year and a half, I have been concerned about the Internet becoming the Wild, Wild West of prescription drug sales. While I am pleased that the administration has recognized the public health and safety implications of online prescription sales, I remain concerned." Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Chair James Jeffords (R-Vt.) and House Commerce Chair Tom Bliley (R-Va.) expressed similar concerns about the bill's "lack of detail on international dealers." The measure, which aims to "fill gaps between state and federal authority," would require online pharmacies to be licensed in each state where they conduct business and to register with federal and state boards before setting up a Web site. It also would allow federal subpoena authority and penalties. According to backers of the legislation, international dealers are included in the definition of "online pharmacy," even though there are few details and regulators have no authority to prosecute them. Some congressional aides say the White House measure will probably be "tweaked" to clarify the penalty and subpoena power provisions (Fulton, 5/4).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.