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Press Release

ASHP Looks Forward to Helping Refine White House Plan for Oversight of Online Pharmacies

The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) agrees that new efforts are needed to protect consumers from the illegal sale of prescription medicines over the Internet. ASHP Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer Henri R. Manasse, Jr., Ph.D., Sc.D., stated that ASHP looks forward to working with Congress as it takes up President Clinton's ideas for more forceful federal oversight of Internet pharmacies.

"Patients who use the Internet to buy medications deserve to be covered by safeguards such as the ones proposed by the President," said Manasse, adding that in a recent study, only 37 of 46 surveyed Web sites required a prescription from a personal physician or a consultation with an Internet physician. The Clinton plan calls for compliance with federal and state requirements and levies strong civil penalties for the illegal sale of pharmaceuticals. Included in the 2001 budget proposal will be new funds for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to monitor Internet pharmacies and educate the public about the potential dangers of buying prescription medicines online.

ASHP staff members met with FDA officials earlier this year to share the perspectives of the Society's members on the positive and negative aspects of Internet pharmacies. The ASHP Board of Directors has made a number of policy decisions that will guide the Society as it continues to work on the issue, including the following three actions from its November 13, 1999, meeting:


  • Regulation of Internet Prescribing and Dispensing

    "To support collaborative efforts of the Food and Drug Administration, the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, and the Federation of State Medical Boards as stated in the Principles of Understanding on the Sale of Drugs on the Internet, to regulate prescribing and dispensing of medications via the Internet; further,

    To support legislation or regulation that requires pharmacy World Wide Web sites to list the states in which the pharmacy and pharmacists are licensed, and, if prescribing services are offered, requires that the sites (a) ensure that a legitimate patient-prescriber relationship exists (consistent with professional practice standards) and (b) list the states in which the prescribers are licensed; further,

    To support the concept of voluntary accreditation of pharmacy Web sites and appropriate consumer education about the risks and benefits of using Internet pharmacies; further,

    To support the principle that any medication distribution or drug therapy management system must provide timely access to, and interaction with, appropriate professional pharmacist patient care services."



  • Online Health Care Services

    "To participate in federal-state, interagency, and non-governmental multidisciplinary professional efforts to appropriately monitor and regulate online health care services."



  • New and Emerging Medication Systems

    "To support the use of new and emerging medication ordering and distribution systems (e.g., the World Wide Web) when such systems (a) provide the elements of pharmaceutical care, (b) ensure that patients will not receive improperly labeled and packaged, deteriorated, outdated, counterfeit, and non-FDA-approved drug products, (c) provide appropriate relationships between an authorized prescriber and patient, (d) enhance the continuity of patient care, and (e) support the pharmacist's role as a patient care advocate."


    ASHP is the 30,000-member national professional association that represents pharmacists who practice in hospitals, health maintenance organizations, long-term-care facilities, home care, and other components of health care systems. ASHP believes that the mission of pharmacists is to help people make the best use of medications. Assisting pharmacists in fulfilling this mission is ASHP's primary objective. The Society has extensive publishing and educational programs designed to help members improve their delivery of pharmaceutical care, and it is a national accrediting organization for pharmacy residency and pharmacy technician training programs.