When I mention online pharmacies to anyone not directly involved in the industry, the response is always the same. I get that raised-eyebrow-sort-of-look, the one that automatically assumes that all online healthcare sites are “rogue” pharmacies selling illegal counterfeit drugs with no prescription needed. And really, it’s hard to blame them since the “buy generic Viagra” boom has rallied in full force this past decade, saturating organic search engine results and spam email folders.
The large majority of these sites lure web surfers in with promises of “generic discounts” that are “the real thing” but the truth is, many are unsafe and there is no legal FDA approved generic form for any of the pde5 inhibitors: Viagra, Cialis or Levitra.
Since Peter Ax, Phoenix Capital Management, acquired KwikMed in 2001 (which previously operated as a “rogue” site out of Salt Lake City), an ongoing collaboration with Utah legislators, physicians and experts has recently yielded some really exciting results for regulating and sorting out the bad apples in this rapidly growing industry.
The unanimous passing of S.B. 274 on March 30, 2010, marked the first state statute defining professional standards of practice for online prescribing, dispensing and facilitation. With KwikMed’s business model as the framework, the Utah Department of Professional Licensing (DOPL) now requires all online pharmacies to be licensed, forcing them to conduct business in a way that is safe for the consumer. These standards are enforced through the newly signed law and the first of its kind, Internet Pharmacy Board.
The need for online healthcare is strong in today’s ever-growing Internet based society. Many diseases and medical conditions are diagnosed solely on patient history, with no face-to-face exam necessary. In fact, research conducted by the University of Utah and published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings discovered that in many ways, online medical assessments are even safer than face-to-face physician assessments.
You can almost hear the audible groans of all these “rogue” illegal pharmacies as this raised awareness has spun one ground breaking law into action. But if you ask me, it’s only a matter of time before we see more laws like this emerge.