ONLINE RX: N.C. to Punish Docs Who Prescribe Online
The North Carolina Medical Board announced Friday that it intends to discipline state physicians who prescribe drugs over the Internet without examining patients in person, the Associated Press reports. Board executives said that, although there have been no complaints to date about North Carolina doctors prescribing online, they want to prevent any possible problems. The move, however, places the medical board in the midst of a growing battle over the availability of prescription drugs on the Web -- an industry that is expected to generate almost $1 billion in sales by 2003. An official of one Internet prescription drug site said that pharmacists and physicians are trying to protect their revenues by opposing online drug sales, but a medical board executive called the idea that the board was acting to safeguard financial interests "hogwash" and said the main issue is patient safety. The board's move may have little impact on Internet prescriptions in any case: Most doctors who prescribe online are based in other states or countries (AP/Nando Times, 11/23).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.