Doctor, practices internal medicine at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. He is also the medical director of Proxicom, Inc., an Internet consulting and development company.
He summarizes the issues of the Internet and online prescriptions as they stand today. His key point: “I think that patients should only get prescriptions from their personal physicians, and never get prescriptions from an online physician hired by an e-pharmacy just to write prescriptions.”
Major Risks of Online Prescriptions
Getting a prescription from your physician and then filling it online through an established e-pharmacy. The major risk is based on security and privacy. Both the technology and the policies need to be in place to protect a patient’s medical information.
Getting a prescription from an unknown doctor online. The many risks include misdiagnosis, wrong dosing and drug interaction. If a site does not require a patient to have a prescription for medication, besides the potential for mistakes and abuse by the patient, an unscrupulous e-pharmacy may not even send the correct medication.
Other issues to consider include:
Sites that prescribe sight unseen are more likely to attract patients who might lie about their history.
Patients are not able to judge the qualifications of the person prescribing to them.
Online standards for these pharmacies are still informal and voluntary.
The opportunity exists to circumvent laws designed to protect the public, such as access to narcotics via overseas sites.
Benefits of Online Pharmacies
The following are benefits of using online pharmacies when you get your prescription from your own doctor:
Getting a refill for medication for a chronic condition.
Saving time by not having to stand in line and wait.
Using a pharmacy with a system that automatically notifies you when it’s time for a refill.
Cost savings if the patient’s insurance plan or prescription benefit system has a relationship with an e-pharmacy that is known and approved by that plan.
Many large, well-known pharmacies now have a presence online.
The possibility of physicians submitting prescriptions directly to online pharmacies. Electronic prescriptions stop handwriting errors, and drug interaction checks and formulary checks can be done at the point of care in the doctor’s office.