Regulations target illegal Internet distribution of controlled substances

Published on June 01, 2009
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New federal regulations seek to prevent Internet distribution of controlled substances for illicit purposes by creating additional requirements for some pharmacies and practitioners—although most veterinarians will not need to change how they practice.

In April, the Drug Enforcement Administration published an interim final rule to implement the Ryan Haight Online Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act of 2008. According to a Senate report, Congress passed the act because of "the increasing use of prescription controlled substances by adolescents and others for nonmedical purposes, which has been exacerbated by drug trafficking over the Internet." The 2007 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that 6.9 million Americans used psychotherapeutic drugs nonmedically in the prior month—an 18 percent increase from 2004.

The new regulations mandate, with few exceptions, that practitioners conduct at least one in-person medical evaluation before prescribing a controlled substance for dispensation via the Internet. The regulations also require pharmacies that fit within the definition of an online pharmacy to obtain a modification of their DEA registration that expressly authorizes online activity.