State Hires Investigator to Track Illegal Online Prescriptions
Hoping to "hunt down" physicians who illegally write prescriptions for patients based only on online consultations, California has become the first state to hire a full-time investigator to address the problem, the Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal reports. The California Medical Board earlier this month hired Paul Nasca to locate physicians licensed in California who operate through the "increasingly popular" hundreds -- "possibly thousands" -- of Web sites that offer "easy access to prescription drugs" without a "face-to-face visit." Using an "undercover" computer system, Nasca will purchase drugs from the Web sites and conduct an investigation of the sites. Under a new state law that took effect in January, California-licensed physicians who dispense online prescriptions could face penalties ranging from a fine of $25,000 per prescription to a revocation of their medical licenses. However, locating physicians who dispense online prescriptions will likely prove "difficult because many of the sites don't offer information about their locations," Jerry Smith, supervising investigator of the California Medical Board, said. Dale Austin, interim CEO of the Federation of State Medical Boards of the United States, added that many Web sites offering prescriptions over the Internet "shut down one day and open up under a different name the next because they don't want to get caught" (May, Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal, 8/20).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.