The New Drug Of Choice

It has been called a “magical” drug. Its chronic abuse has destroyed lives, families and loved ones. Its users claim that they cannot stop using. It has become their way of life. They can’t imagine what life would be without it.

What drug am I referring to?

Credit cards.

The abuse of credit cards is quickly becoming the epidemic of the 21st century and it is claiming lives and making indentured servants of consumers worldwide. The credit card “pushers” fill consumers mail boxes with their “drug” and frequent college campuses to turn our children into junkies.
Like cocaine it drains your bank account. The addicts come from all walks of life. The addiction is not prejudice to race, color or religious background. It strikes at the heart of consumers and few seldom recover before damage is done.

There is even a 12 step group that’s sole purpose is to help the addict.
From the Debtors Anonymous preamble:
“Debtors Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from compulsive debting.

The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop incurring unsecured debt. There are no dues or fees for D.A. membership; we are self-supporting through our own contributions.
D.A. is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution; does not wish to engage in any controversy; neither endorses nor opposes any causes.
Our primary purpose is to stop debting one day at a time and to help other compulsive debtors to stop incurring unsecured debt.”

Debtors Anonymous started in 1968 when a core group of recovering members from Alcoholics Anonymous held their first meeting to discuss the problems they were experiencing with money.
By 1971, the essence of the D.A. Program unfolded in the discovery and understanding that the act of debting itself was the threshold of this disease, and the only solution was to use a Twelve Step program.
Credit cards most definitely are part of our society, no matter if you make purchases online, offline, in person or wherever you are. It is difficult, if not impossible, to rent a car or make a reservation without one.

Credit cards are available with every turn of your head and misusing you credit lines can mean trouble for your financial future. The sad fact is that people use credit cards to pay for things they cannot afford. A credit card gives us the opportunity to pay more for an item purchased.
Why do seemingly intelligent people do such things?

There are probably more answers (or excuses) to that question than I can count, but it can be safe to assume that “convenience” would grace the list somewhere. Using the thinking above though, does it really make sense to “conveniently” pay more for a product or services price? This is addictive thinking. The main feature of addictive thinking is denial. Denial is the trick the addicts mind plays on them to excuse the use of their “drug” no matter what harm it causes.

You keep using because you’re obsessed with the desire to feel good.

Although there is no such thing as debtors prisons, being a slave to your debt can feel quite constricting. When you are no longer working for your family, but you creditors, there needs to be an intervention. You need to stop the addictive acting and thinking. You need recovery.
Once you are out of debt, say with the help of debt settlement, there are several ways to prevent yourself from ever having to suffer from this horrible addiction again.

Easier said than done, right?

With a little discipline and a lot of persistence, you can happily maintain a lifestyle that will never be in need of debt again.

It’s all about a budget. Sit down and determine the total amount of take-home pay that comes into your household every month. Next, determine the nature and amount of all necessary expenses, including mortgage, auto, food and utilities. The amount that you have left after all necessary expenses have been paid will represent your extra spending money for the month. By spending no more than what you make, you will never again have to worry about needing being in debt.

Shop with a store list, it’s so easy to wander into the jewelry or sporting goods section, but there are often greater rewards with discipline. If you shop with a list and stay within the areas that sell only what you need to buy, you won’t be tempted by impulse purchases. Although excessive spending is not the only reason why many are in need of debt settlement services, it is one of the leading causes of debt.

Keep a journal, or track your spending with a personal finance program on the computer, at least for 30 days. A financial journal is a very responsible step toward managing your money and avoiding debt problems in the future. I call this my 30 day challenge.
How many times have you wondered where your money went? If you are like most, the answer to that question is all too often. Rather than wondering what happens to your hard-earned dollar, write down every single purchase in a daily journal. This will help you to see exactly what you are paying and where you your money is going.

Clip Coupons. You can save a lot of money every week simply by clipping a few coupons. Whether you find them online or in the Sunday newspaper, coupons are a terrific way to save money. Even if you only save $10.00 per week in coupons, that’s $40.00 per month. For most households, that money could be put toward a necessary expense.

Save. Every month, put some amount of money into a savings account. Many banks will allow you to open a savings account with no minimum deposit. Whatever you can afford, even if it’s just $20.00, putting money into some type of savings will provide you with a cushion for later use. Being able to access savings will be a great help if you should ever get that impulse to charge again. Remember, YOU ARE AN ADDICT! With addictive thoughts and actions. Your efforts to break the pattern are fine, but NEVER forget the problems caused by the old, charge it mentality.

The Economic Implications of Buying Drugs Online

Although the Internet is fairly new (at least to the mainstream) online shopping has grown by leaps and bounds. Now you can buy almost anything you need, from food to fishing equipment, right through your computer. Of course, this has meant that commerce has been forced to adapt to the changing consumer landscape and some industries have been scrambling to catch up with the crowd. It is no different for the pharmaceutical industry as online pharmacies appear to be popping up everywhere you turn. The prevalence of online pharmacies is a hot topic, especially when it comes to foreign-based companies selling prescription and non-prescription drugs to Americans for lower, more affordable prices. But in addition to foreign-based online pharmacies are a growing number of U.S. based companies offering medication to Americans – making it easier and more convenient to receive much needed prescription drugs.

What impact does this reality have on the drug industry in general and are the changes positive? The answer depends on what aspect of the industry you are involved in. Essentially, pharmaceutical companies who sell their products through traditional brick-and-mortar operations are worried that online pharmacies are only going to keep growing – taking a large bite out of their piece of the pie. For the most part, although the FDA and the big drug companies talk about safety issues and the legality of cross-border drug transactions, it really all comes down to money. It’s no wonder many companies, such as Pfizer, are threatening to restrict supply to Canadian pharmacies that sell discounted drugs to Americans in an effort to scare these pharmacies out of their revenue stream.

Trends do seem to point in the direction of continual growth unless something happens to dampen the excitement the online pharmaceutical industry is currently experiencing. Since the 90’s the industry has continued to flourish. For example, sales of Canadian drugs to U.S. citizens alone have skyrocketed over the billion dollar mark in the past few years and all signs point to this trend enduring. In addition, although these numbers only represent a dollar volume of 0.35% of the total annual U.S. prescription drug market, if Americans continue to use online pharmacies to fill their prescription drug needs it will have a big impact on the industry as a whole. And of course, countries such as Canada are enjoying the benefits of a large consumer base that has a reason to bring their business north. Many American online pharmacies even offer customers the option of obtaining Canadian drugs for lower prices through their sites. As you can see, people are being given more choices than ever before when it comes to buying prescription medications. Much of the power to control drug prices is slowly being taken away from the pharmaceutical companies and put into the hands of the people that matter the most – the consumers.

Organized pharmacy groups are beginning to voice concern over the practice as they see the economic consequences of such a trend, and the whole idea of drug distribution, as well as how certain goods, services and funds are transferred across the border. The main reason many people are flocking to online pharmacies is to save money. If the pharmaceutical industry wants to stay on top of things and keep customers buying the drugs they need through U.S. sources, they will need to change with the times by facilitating the introduction of more online pharmacies that cater to the U.S. market from within the U.S. They will also need to be open to more competition within the marketplace, and most importantly, make it more affordable for the average American to purchase the prescriptions they require.

It is clear that online pharmacies, both foreign and those based in the U.S., are in a position to benefit from an ever-increasing amount of business. Individually, consumers save money on drugs and can afford to put more money into the economy through other industries. Online pharmacies usually offer more choices especially in the way of generic drugs, and make it extremely easy for patients to obtain the prescription drugs they seek. Some senior citizens find it more convenient to shop online than venture out to the local pharmacy. At the same time, most people still choose to go the traditional route and buy their drugs in their own neighborhood, which still takes up the largest part of the market.

While online pharmacies are growing at an exponential rate, it will still be some time before a major shift from buying locally to buying online occurs that will drastically alter the way the pharmaceutical industry functions. In the meantime, consumers will no doubt continue to consider the options that are most economically beneficial to them.

Online Courses in the Healthcare Industry: Educating Patients

For healthcare professionals – be it hospital staff, medical representatives or bio-scientists developing new drugs, online learning courses can provide training and support in a variety of ways. For patients and caregivers too, who are at the other end of the spectrum in the healthcare industry, e-learning has a lot to offer. While every healthcare organization has available literature providing detailed information on the above, patients are often not able to perceive or understand them well to take informed decisions. This is where online learning courses can come into play.

  • An illness of any kind is daunting for an individual. For the lack of time, doctors or nurses are often unable to sit with patients and discuss their options at length with them. Misconceptions and myths concerning certain illnesses also hinder an open face-to-face discussion. Online learning courses enabled learning allows patients as well as caregivers to gather information at their own pace and in a secure environment.
  • A number of strategies can be employed to put the learner at ease and help them understand their options better. For instance, we developed a course on IVF for one of India’s leading IVF specialists, where scenarios were built with real-life people, practical problems and solutions. The learners were informed about IVF, various procedures and their options with the help of these scenarios.
  • Information and interactivities within an online learning course can prepare patients for the meeting with the doctor. This shortens the time spent on making them understand the mundane necessities and can be better spent in actual face-to-face interactions. For instance, in a course on a debilitating gastrointestinal disorder, we included clinic forms which the patients need to fill to get treatment for the disease. Important portions of the form like healthcare insurance details, details of previous treatments and history of vaccinations were highlighted to make sure that the patients can produce these details quickly and take the minimum time to fill in the forms in a correct manner.
  • Perhaps the most important benefit of technology-aided learning for healthcare patients is that it makes understanding complex procedures possible, even if he or she is a layman. With e-learning, graphics and 2D and 3D animations can be used to visually re-create complex procedures and break them down to individual steps to aid understanding. The patients have the option of re-enforcing their understanding by reading up the material whenever they need and sharing it with their family and friends as well.
  • In addition to information on the illness, treatment options and procedures, online learning courses can also provide the much needed mental and emotional support for patients as well as their caregivers. By sharing coping mechanisms, important resources, links and practical insights that is available to patients and their families at all times, e-courses can provide long term support. This is especially important if the treatment options have a long term implication on the quality of a patient’s life.
  • With the aid of technology, we can also create a virtual community of patients and caregivers. Discussion boards, wikis or blogs can be created inviting patients and their families to share experiences. It can double up as a searchable knowledge repository, where they can search for information and share it further. This will help dealing with their illness better and dispel the feeling of alienation that often accompanies illness.

There are many ways of creating a technology-aided solution to help patients and their families. More and more doctors and healthcare providers are turning to these solutions to help their patients better.

Online Pharmacies and Telemedicine

Not a day goes by when our email inboxes do not fill with advertisements for prescription drugs. Many of these emails promise to deliver drugs of all classes by overnight courier without a prescription. While there are legitimate online pharmacies, and the practice of telemedicine or cyber-medicine is gaining acceptance, this change in the way medicine is being practiced is rocking the foundations of the medical establishment. Being able to consult a doctor online, and obtain prescription drugs delivered to your doorstep by UPS has broad social and legal implications. The Internet facilitates making drugs available to those who may not be able to afford to pay US prices, are embarrassed to see a doctor face-to-face, or are suffering from pain, the treatment of which puts most doctors in direct conflict with the ‘war on drugs’ but on the other hand there is the question whether these pharmacies make drugs available to recreational drug users without the oversight of a licensed medical practitioner.

The Need for Alternatives

Medical care in the US has reached a point where it is expensive and impersonal which has caused the consumer to become generally unsatisfied with the medical establishment as a whole. Examples include the huge differences between the cost of drugs in the US and Canada, long wait times in US pharmacies, and poor service in general. Perhaps realizing this, US customs appears to tolerate the millions of Americans that visit Canada every year to buy their medications, as for the most part, these ‘drug buyers’ are elderly American’s that can’t afford the high cost of filling their prescriptions in the US.

Rather than to travel to Canada or Mexico millions of Americans are now turning to the Internet for both their medical needs. Telemedicine (or cyber medicine) provides consumers with the ability to both consult with a doctor online and order drugs over the Internet at discounted prices. This has resulted in consumers turning to online pharmacies for their medical needs, and in particular pharmacies with a relationships with a physician, which allow the consumer to completely bypass the traditional brick and mortar pharmacies, with the added benefit of having their physician act as an intermediary between the consumer and the pharmacy. According to Johnson (2005) this is as a result of consumers becoming very dissatisfied when it comes to dealing with both brick and mortar pharmacies and medical practitioners. As Johnson, notes, “Consumers are more likely to know the name of their hairdresser than their pharmacist.” When Johnson (2005) rated the various professions within the health care system, he found that pharmacists had the lowest interaction with their patients than did any other group. Today, as a result of this “consumers are buying 25.5 percent of their prescriptions online, opposed to 13.5 percent of which are picked up at a brick and mortar pharmacy” (Johnson 2005).

Drugs and Society

What has brought so much attention to online pharmacies is that it is possible to obtain just about any drug without a prescription online. Many of these prescriptions are for legitimate purposes purchased through an online pharmacy because the buyer is too embarrassed to visit the doctor or for other reasons including the unavailability of FDA approved drugs to the consumer. These drugs may include steroids that due to their misuse and being classed as a classed a category three drugs, are seldom prescribed by physicians. These drugs have a useful purpose to those suffering from any wasting disease such as AIDS, they also play a role in ant-aging (FDA, 2004).

The Doctor Patient Relationship

Today a visit to a doctor is generally brief, much of the triage it is done by a nurse or a nurse practitioner with the doctor only dropping in for a few minutes, if at all. In many cases the patient is seen by a nurse practitioner. One of the arguments against telemedicine or perhaps a better term is cyber-medicine, is that the doctor does not have a physical relationship with the patients and thus is in no position to make a diagnosis, and thus can not legally prescribe drugs.

Ironically when one compares the work up that one has to go through to consult with an online physicians and compares this to a face-to-face visit with a brick and mortar doctor, one finds that the online physician, in many cases, has a better understanding of the patient’s medical condition than does the doctor who meets face-to-face with the patient. In most cases before an on-line a doctor prescribes any type of medication they insist on a full blood workup they may also require that one has additional tests performed, for example.

The AMA, the federal government, and various states claim, however, that it is illegal for a doctor to prescribe drugs without a valid doctor-patient relationship. While there are no laws at present that outlaw online pharmacies, various states have enacted legislation, or are in the process of enacting legislation to prohibit a doctor from prescribing drugs to a patient that they have not seen face to face. Some states also require that the doctor that prescribes the drugs be licensed in their state. This alone could hamper the development of cyber-medicine. According to William Hubbard (2004), FDA associate commissioner “The Food and Drug Administration says it is giving states first crack at legal action, though it will step in when states do not act” (FDA, 2004).

Internet Pharmacies

The reason that email boxes around the country fill up with offers to supply drugs of all kinds, at reduced prices, without prescriptions, and more is because people buy them as the billions of dollars the drug companies are making each year attest to. The Internet has become the drug store of choice for many.

Categories of Internet Pharmacies

Internet pharmacies are generally acknowledged to be comprised of the following five categories:

Internet pharmacies can be divided up into five different categories, as follows:

Licensed online pharmacies with a no medical affiliation.

Licensed online pharmacies with a medical affiliation

No record online pharmacies (NRP)

International online pharmacies (IOP)

Licensed compounding pharmacies

The licensed online pharmacies with a no medical affiliation are of course Drugstore.com, CVV, and others. They all require a prescription from a licensed doctor that the patient has a doctor patient relationship with. The prescription can be called in by the doctor.

The licensed online pharmacies with a medical affiliation often depend on a broker. The broker collects your medical information, and then assigns your case to one of their networked physicians. Many of these networked physicians are willing to prescribe pain killers as they believe that it is only through the use of these drugs that some people can live a harmonious life.

A Government Accountability Office (GAO) Committee on aging held in June 2004 found that “Unlicensed international pharmacies do not require a prescription, and are generally located off shore.” No prescription pharmacies can be found all over the world. Many of these sites have come under controversy as in some cases all it takes to have that prescription delivered to you by next day air, is to fill out a questionnaire online.

A study conducted by Henkle in 2002 to ascertain how easy it would be to obtain drugs over the Internet found that “37 of the 46″ pharmacy required a prescription from a licensed doctor. The emphasis was on the prescription and not on the doctor. Henkle (2002) in fact notes that some sites offered to recommend a doctor.” Henkle (2002) was able to obtain prescription drugs from nine sites outside the US during the study, without a prescription.

Online pharmacies with a doctor affiliation

There are a number of online pharmacies, with a medical affiliation is that take great pain to differentiate themselves form unlicensed overseas pharmacies. These pharmacies, stress that they are “American based companies that provides consumer’s easy access to FDA approved online prescriptions over the Internet and are quick to point out that “An online consultation can be just as relevant as an in-person consultation.” It is interesting to note that many of these online pharmacies also point out that “While they are committed to making access to online prescriptions easier, they believe that the Internet can not replace the importance of regular doctor visits to fully evaluate your health and any medical conditions.” Many of these online pharmacy sites also makes a wealth of drug information available on its web site that enables the consumer to educate themselves on drugs that may have been prescribed. The Internet has for all intensive purposes is quickly replacing the brick and mortar base physician as a patient’s primary health care provider.

A sales pitch, of course, or is it? Most of the legitimate online pharmacies ensure that they comply with state and federal regulation. The doctors are licensed in all 50 states and their pharmacies are too. These legitimate Internet pharmacies cater to those that are looking for a better price; for some it comes down to making the choice of eating cat food on crackers in order to afford their medications because of the high US drug prices. In other cases patients resort to cyber-medicine to avoid the embarrassment of having to deal with a physician or pharmacy that may be judgmental. Many of these online pharmacies will arrange a consult with a licensed, medical doctor over the phone and will then fill the prescription accordingly.

According to Henkel (2000) “More and more consumers are using the Internet for health reasons” and references a study carried out by a market research firm Cyber Dialogue Inc., “that found that “health concerns are the sixth most common reason people go online” (Henkel 2000).

For many people a trip to the pharmacy is an ordeal. In some cases the local pharmacy may also be located in the closest town which may mean a long drive if one lives in a rural community. Online pharmacies provide a means through which their prescriptions can be delivered conveniently and quickly. Being online also allows the consumer to shop for the best prices, an important factor if one is living on a pension.

The Internet has also created a more aware user. It is not unusual for a consumer to research drugs on the Internet. A consumer may have seen a TV or magazine advertisement advertising a new drug. Ultimately, the Internet also provides the consumer the opportunity to enter into a doctor patient relationship that may in fact be more legitimate than the doctor who makes a physical appearance. Further information on doctors that practice telemedicine can be found at: http://www.becomeone.com

It is interesting to note, as discussed previously, that consumers are becoming dissatisfied with the care and treatment they receive from both brick and mortar physicians and pharmacies. Zanf (2001), references a study by Lang and Fullerton that “Identified four factors related to outpatient pharmacy services: professional communication, physical and emotional comfort, demographics, and location and convenience.” All of which are contributing factors as to why more and more consumers are resorting to cyber-medicine.

The Dark Side

There is also a dark side to the Internet pharmacy, as previously discussed, spam email touting the availability of any prescription drug one could want, without a prescription, is something everyone is familiar with has reached epidemic proportions.

From Ambien, and of course Viagra to more powerful drugs such as Oxycontin, you can have it all. Over night shipping is available in most case, or so these emails proclaim.
In some instances this pharmacy spam originates from unscrupulous individuals who have no intention of delivering the drugs, realizing that very few people, if any, will complain about the non delivery of an illegal drug through the mail.

In other cases the drugs are sent without a prescription from countries where that particular drug may legally be sold without a prescription, or at least the laws are more relaxed. Valium, for example, is sold over-the-counter in Taiwan.

According to Crawford (2004) “Consumers who purchase drugs online thinking that they are they are getting the same drugs as they would from their local brick-and-mortar pharmacy are being misled, and as a result are putting their health, and eventually their lives at risk” Crawford cites examples of Internet pharmacies supplying drugs that were under strength, contaminated and mislabeled (Crawford 2004).

According to Won (2005) Drug-industry executives think the Internet and mail-order operations will be the biggest source of counterfeit drugs over the next five years, according to a report released today by Ernst & Young. According to James G Dickinson (2005):

The federal government in July shut down an alleged illegal Internet pharmacy for selling counterfeit drugs and issued a warning on other counterfeits found to have been sold in Mexican border pharmacies to individual patients from the U.S. The Internet pharmacy had sold more than $7 million in counterfeit Viagra and other prescription drugs over the past five years, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. The San Diego-based operation required individuals to complete a $35 “doctor consultation” survey before receiving the prescriptions, but the survey was never shown to a health professional to evaluate whether a safety risk existed, the paper says (Dickson, 2005).

In a separate action, the FDA warned Americans about counterfeit versions of Merck’s cholesterol drug Zocor and generic Carisoprodol – used for treating musculoskeletal conditions – that had been imported from Mexico by individual Americans (FDA, 2005).

Over the last year patients suffering from pain, and other conditions that they are reluctant to see a doctor face-to-face, have had the option of consulting a doctor online. The ability to consult with a doctor online, and then to receive drugs as a result has come under much controversy. This has for the most part been as a result of not adequately screening patient’s records, or ordering from unregulated overseas pharmacies.

The Internet – a new way of marketing

Not all Internet pharmacies are illegitimate, however, and there are many pharmacies that provide the consumer with a legitimate prescription by overnight service. My last prescription came by mail. The whole transaction was completed over the Internet. It was a prescription that my doctor had given to me personally, however. As discussed, what constitutes a doctor patient relationship is at the crux of the online pharmacy debate. This of course has implications as to what constitutes a legitimate prescription. What constitutes a legitimate prescription is a hotly debated topic.

The Future

As noted, being able to consult a doctor over the phone, and then have one’s prescription filled by an Internet pharmacy is convenient for many people. As the American population ages, more and more people will have trouble getting to the doctors office, not to mention driving to the pharmacy. Clearly safeguards are needed if cyber-medicine is to raise the quality of medical care available to Americans. The online pharmaceutical industry has taken a number of steps to ensure that consumers are protected against unscrupulous online pharmacy operators including the certification of online pharmacies.

According to Henkel (2000) “One way consumers can ensure the quality of an online pharmacy is to look for the Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites (VIPPS) seal.” According to Henkel (2000) any site bearing this seal has gone through a rigorous series of quality checks which are part of the Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites program. Unfortunately as Henkel (2000) notes, “Because VIPPS certification is fairly new and voluntary, only a few sites have been certified so far.” Recognizing the problem of ‘rouge’ pharmacies, SquareTrade, has also implemented a program to protect consumers from ‘rouge’ pharmacies. According to SquareTrade, “The Licensed Pharmacy program verifies that your business is a pharmacy in good standing. Verified pharmacies can display the Licensed Pharmacy Seal on their websites – distinguishing themselves from unverified and rogue pharmacies.”

If these safe guards are not put in place, and legislation is enacted that makes it illegal to obtain a prescription from an online pharmacy based on an online consult, the black market for drugs will continue to thrive. Customs by its own admission only catches approximately 2% of all illicit prescription drugs that enter the US.

Negating the fact that through technology, one could enter into a doctor patient relationship that may be affordable. Security, as some have suggested could be accomplished through the use of video cameras and biometric scanners which would cut down on the number of fraudulent prescriptions written. Measures like these would put the convenience of using an online pharmacy out of the reach of those without the technology. One could also not prevent consumers from using off shore online pharmacies. While the FDA is presently trying very hard to get the Canadian government to enact legislation that would prohibit the export of drugs from Canada by mail it appears that the profit that results from the sale of drugs is causing the legislation to stall. As one Canadian pharmacy owner noted, however “We will just move to the UK.”

Ironically, the Canadian’s are offering to crack down, not because of any concerns relating to the sale of drugs online, but because Canada controls drug prices, making them far cheaper than the same drug in the US. The Canadian authorities are planning on cracking down “arguing that the system was created to help Canadians, not Americans.” The drug industry itself has gone so far as to black list Canadian pharmacies that sell to American customers over the Internet. With all the paranoia relating to terrorism there is a concern that any drug coming in from another country may be contaminated. There are no instances on record of a consumer having received a contaminated drug from Canada (Matthews, 2003).

Even more ironically with all the talk about the dangers of drugs purchased from overseas, some legitimate companies are now being forced to buy from other than US sources because they have been black listed by US drug manufactures (Matthews, 2003). Mathews (2003) goes on to illustrate this by pointing out that “Canadian suppliers, in particular, that have been blacklisted, are now turning to sources in Europe.” Mathews (2003) notes that while for the most part these European sources are legitimate and make a high quality drug. In some cases, however Mathews et al. (2003) note that the pharmacies are having to go ‘farther a field’ to find product.

Conclusion

While there need for controls to be put in place to regulate the practice of both medicine online and Internet pharmacies, we also need to acknowledge that science and technology has furthered the practice of medicine, and that the Internet will further it yet.

The Internet has the potential of expanding medical care to those that may not routinely seek it, or are too infirm to travel to the doctor’s office. While the present trend appears to be to make it illegal for a doctor to prescribe drugs without seeing the patient face-to-face there is also a move to establish rules and regulations that ensure that patients receive quality care over the Internet. Unfortunately medicine and politics have become so intertwined and doctors have inadvertently become unwilling agents in the war against drugs.

One can’t turn back the clock though, and according to Larkin (1999) “At a July 30 US Department of Commerce hearing on the benefits and risks of ‘drugstores on the net’, the question was examined.” The main issue was how to shutdown the online pharmacies run by unscrupulous individuals, while still fostering the legitimate online pharmacy business in order to both promote commerce and still protect the consumer (Larkin, 1999). According to Larkin (1999) “What’s new here is not the practice of pharmacy, but the way we communicate with and inform customers.”

At a January 26th 2004 FDCH Congressional Testimony Jeff Kimmell who is vice President and Chief Pharmacy Officer at drugstore.com, inc. commented, “There is little doubt that as consumers increasingly bear the burden of paying for prescription drugs, they will turn to the Internet for cost- effective alternatives.” As discussed, however, measures need to be taken to ensure that consumers don’t receive counterfeit, tainted or expired drugs. For more up-to-date information on doctors that practice telemedicine, pending legislation, and more visit: http://www.becomeone.com

Copyright (2005) http://www.becomeone.com

All rights reserved. No part of this article may be altered without the express permission of the author.