Internet Pharmaceutical Sites Under Scrutiny

Clinton Administration Proposes Legislation to Regulate Pharmaceutical Websites

WASHINGTON, DC--In response to the increased Internet use to buy medical products, the Clinton Administration has proposed new legislation to regulate the sale of pharmaceuticals over the Internet. The initiative would give the FDA more power to regulate, investigate, and prosecute sites that do not comply with federal and state pharmaceutical sales laws. Online pharmacies would have to demonstrate their compliance to the FDA prior to commencing operations or be subject to sanctions.

The FDA currently has the authority to take legal action; however, the new initiative would give them administrative subpoena authority when investigating potential fraudulent sites. Targeted are sites that sell unapproved or counterfeit drugs, or false "miracle" drugs. Additionally, the proposal creates a $500,000 fine per violation for online selling of prescription drugs to individuals without valid prescriptions.

The Fiscal Year 2001 budget has earmarked $10 million to enhance the FDA's computer technology and fund a public education program regarding the safe purchase of pharmaceutical products on the Internet.