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Clinton proposes Web pharmacy initiative


Pharmaceutical Representative

President Clinton unveiled a new initiative to protect consumers from the sale of illegal pharmaceuticals on the Internet. The new initiative would:

President Clinton unveiled a new initiative to protect consumers from the sale of illegal pharmaceuticals on the Internet. The new initiative would:

•Â Establish new federal requirements for all Internet pharmacies to ensure that they comply with state and federal laws.

•Â Create new civil penalties for the illegal sale of pharmaceuticals.

•Â Give federal agencies new authority to gather information needed to prosecute offenders.

•Â Expand federal enforcement efforts.

•Â Launch a new public education campaign about the potential dangers of buying prescription drugs online.

"Prescription drug sites on the Internet have given consumers new options to obtain needed medications, sometimes at a more affordable price," said Clinton on the day of the proposal. "This industry is still in its infancy, however, and rogue operators pose a threat to the health of Americans. Today we are unveiling a proposal that sends a signal that we have zero tolerance for prescription drug Internet sites that ignore Federal and state laws and harm patient safety and health. Dispensing medications through the Internet without prescriptions or licenses must stop."

Much of the new authority to regulate Internet pharmacies would be given to the Food and Drug Administration. The Clinton legislative proposal would require Internet pharmacies to demonstrate to the FDA that they operate within the framework of federal and state laws. The Food and Drug Administration would also be provided with administrative subpoena authority when investigating rogue sites.

Industry approves

The Clinton initiative has met with widespread approval from Internet pharmacies. "We support the president's proposal because we know that unscrupulous, unlicensed operators are using online businesses as a way to sell prescription drugs, in volume, including so-called lifestyle drugs to combat impotency," said Zackary Irani, president and CEO of Bioamerica, Inc., operator of the TheBigRX.com.

Clickpharmacy.com president Gloria Rodriguez added: "We applaud the efforts of the president to ensure that good pharmacy practice is followed on the Internet, as required in traditional retail outlets."

Some within the industry have even predicted that the new initiatives will spur the growth of online pharmacies. "Consumer confidence that they are being serviced by trusted professionals committed to bringing expert knowledge and solutions will encourage more people to use Internet pharmacy systems," said Jack Rosen, chairman and CEO of Infu-Tech, Inc., a Carlstadt, NJ company looking to break into the online pharmacy market. "The Internet has tremendous potential for improving the way drugs are prescribed, distributed and administered to patients."

Added Rosen, "[Online pharmacies] will be an increasingly important element in the managed care environment. It is simply too important an advance to proceed without requiring standards that would help ensure that the industry remains in the hands of responsible and qualified organizations with expertise in the prescription pharmaceutical business."

The president plans to include $10 million in the fiscal year 2001 budget to fund the initiative. PR

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