Online Pharmacies and Their Benefits to Health Care

Most Americans are experiencing a difficult time managing the recession. Financial imbalance has caused the shutting down of companies and lay offs of millions. Because a greater number people possess no income, they can no longer pay for the rising prices of health care. An increasing number of people are more vulnerable to disease yet they do not possess the insurance or the money to pay for drugs or even visit a doctor. How does a person face with this trouble without endangering their health?

Individuals suffering from medical conditions can buy the generic alternative of their prescribed branded medicine. Generic medicines apply the same main chemical as their branded counterpart. Branded medicines only obtain their expensive price from their patent exclusivity. Otherwise, generic pills possess equal effectiveness.

Individuals on a limited budget can set aside more by ordering generic drugs online. Online pharmacies let you save on public transportation or fuel costs. Buying medicines from the web is also easier, only requiring a few minutes to visit the website and fill up the order application. Visiting your local drug store may take some time, especially if you reside in a far off area. Buying from online pharmacies allows you to acquire your drugs without fretting over the transportation means and the time consumed.

Individuals can also save by ordering large medicine quantities from the web. Most online pharmacies provide lowered costs for large purchases. Some even include a discounted shipping cost with the order. With a large order, you can have enough medicines set aside for a few months. You will be able to track your drug supply and order in advance for a refill.

Budgeting is also more convenient with web drug stores. Before ordering the actual drugs, you can check out the supply drugs and their corresponding prices. From the convenience of your laptop, you can compare each site’s prices. You can plan your total expenses before buying and manage what you spend according to your additional basic needs.

Online pharmacies still come with difficulties. These disadvantages only happen when a person buys from a cheat online pharmacy. On the downside, many websites are only after your money. You’ll settle an order, mail your cash, but get nothing back. You can stay away from this difficulty by visiting online pharmacy review sites. The review websites feature testimonies from past and current buyers of online pharmacies. Most have a rating system that determines the best and reliable web drug stores. You can limit your options by looking through the record of well known pharmacy websites. Review makers don’t only evaluate the website but also include their positive and negative experiences. These experiences indicate if the pharmacy website sends quality products.

Ordering drugs from online pharmacies has many benefits. Apt knowledge and safety measures in choosing the right online pharmacy lets more individuals to set aside cash. Start checking out the pharmacy review sites and see what choices are available.

Pharmacy Technician – Job Outlook and Training

With the current shortage for highly skilled pharmacy technician’s it’s no surprise that all sorts of schools, as well as their online counterparts are offering an ever increasing number of pharmacy technician programs. These programs are specifically geared towards improving the quality of pharmacy technician graduates nationwide who will then help fill in the current gap in need for trained pharmacy technician graduates in the health care industry.

The relationship between a pharmacy technician and a pharmacist is similar to that of a paralegal and an attorney in that in essence the pharmacy technician is an assistant and performs a wide variety of tasks and assignments that are a bit less high profile and that don’t require and actual pharmacist license. In most circumstances, their boss is a registered pharmacist.

Pharmacy technicians duties include a wide variety of duties like: keeping track of patient records, packaging and labeling prescription medication, keeping track of the drug supply, compounding medications, understanding prescription orders, doing inventory, doing the preparation of sterile products as well as billing and crediting the patients while also being able to work with a computer.

Pharmacy technicians can be assigned to various health care settings from hospitals, drug wholesalers, mail order pharmacies, home health care agencies as well as long term care facilities.

The current job market for pharmacy technicians is on fire and is one of the primary factors why more and more people are looking into a pharmacy technician career. The options are unlimited and expected to stay that way for the foreseeable future for a properly trained, competent pharmacy technician.

Of course salaries and benefits vary depending on an individual’s experience, the type of employer and which part of the country the employer is located but it’s clearly possible to make a comfortable living.

Most highly rated and reputable pharmacy technician programs are accredited by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists or ASHP and it’s becoming more common for employers to require that any prospective pharmacy technician be to obtain their certification and license before they will be hired.

Many pharmacy technician programs include some type of hands on internship in a local pharmacy to get hands on experience along with the book work which ranges from pharmacology and medical terminology to human body structure to pharmacology law.

Due to the demand and popularity of night classes and online learning more and more pharmacy technician training schools and course offer flexible class schedules to accommodate not only the young but those already working adults who are looking for a career change.

Online Pharmacies Feeding Prescription Drug Abuse

The U.S. Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act prohibits delivery in America of controlled substances not prescribed by a physician. Yet, rogue pharmacy websites outside of the U. S. send out millions of email solicitations and some do not adhere to U.S. prescriptive regulations. Warnings have been issued to more than 100 online pharmacies for violations, but the law of supply and demand often trumps attempts by the Federal Drug Association to squelch the access to drugs.

Access to online pharmacies has caused a rapid increase in drug abuse, addiction and the self-destructive aspects to the abuser, their loved ones and the community. We’re talking about highly addictive, powerful opioid pain killers such as oxycodone (OxyContin) and those containing hydrocodone (Vicodin), sedatives and tranquilizers, such as diazepam (Valium) and lorazepam (Ativan) and stimulants such as methylphenidate (Ritalin) that are used to treat Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD) and sleep disorders. These are but a small list of the mood/mind altering prescription grade medications available online.

In 2011, the Internet celebrated its 20th birthday. Globally, an estimated 2.67 billion people are users with a gargantuan growth of 528% from 2000 to 2011. Internet users continue to grow at an accelerated rate.

International and Communications Technology has many benefits but it also has horrific and destructive aspects such as cyber criminals, cyber bullies, cyber stalkers and online sexual predators to name a few. A new growing epidemic is the escalation of prescription drug abuse.

Prescription drugs are fast replacing illegal substances on college campuses. States with the greatest expansion in high-speed internet access had the largest increase of admissions for treatment of drug abuse (Massachusetts General Hospital, University of Southern California). Interestingly, as online prescription drug sales increase, admission for abuse of alcohol, cocaine and heroin had minimal or negative growth rates.

Senior Citizens are among those most vulnerable to prescription drug abuse or misuse because they are prescribed more medications than younger patients. Most people take prescription medications responsibly: however, an estimated 48 million people (ages 12 and older) have used prescription drugs for non-medical reasons in their lifetimes. Prescription drugs are the second most commonly abused category of drugs, behind marijuana and ahead of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and other drugs.

The National Institute of Health estimates that nearly 20% of people in the U.S. have used prescription drugs for non-medical reasons. Steroid abuse is also on the rise. Men report higher rates of steroid use than women do. Prescription drug abuse is generally the same between men and women, except among 12 to 17 year olds. In this age group, research conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that females are more likely to use psychotherapeutic drugs for non-medical purposes. Research has also shown that women in general are more likely to use narcotic pain relievers and tranquilizers for non-medical purposes.

The number of teens and young adults (ages 12 to 25) who were new abusers of prescription painkillers grew from 400,000 in the 1980s to 2 million in 2000, according to a study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. New users of tranquilizers, which are normally used to treat anxiety and tension, increased 50% between 1999 and 2000 in a study of students in Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Once someone begins ingesting a number of pills for medical issues like managing blood pressure and cholesterol, it becomes easier to take narcotic painkillers, prescription sleep aids and other, more addictive drugs. It also increases the risk of negative and possibly fatal interactions between drugs, especially when they are not used as prescribed. The exact relationship between a dramatic increase in the proper use and an increase in abuse of prescription medications is unknown. A stated above, prescription drugs account for the second most abused category of drugs, behind marijuana and ahead of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and other drugs.

Having treated alcohol and drug abuse, these writers suspect that the use and abuse of these medications by Americans are far greater than estimated. As the Internet continues to grow in number of users and accessibility to global markets, we suspect that prescription drug abuse and addiction will continue to rise. International online pharmacies knowingly marketing and selling prescription medications to Americans privy to our FDA regulations are engaged in cybercrime and illegal drug trade. Given the many dangers of ordering medications from online pharmacies, it is highly recommended to work with your family doctor on all prescription medicines.

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Pharmacy Technician Training at a Glance

If you want to have a long and prosperous career in pharmacy, you should attend a good school with a great pharmacy technician training program. When looking for a great training program, one place to start your research is at your local community college. Attending a local community college will teach you the core fundamentals of starting a great career in pharmacy.

In the first year of your pharmacy technician training, many students learn the basics that many health care professionals are taught. You are taught fundamentals such as medical terminology, basic and complex word problem solving, basic drug pronunciation, and different drug interactions. Some programs go a little further and get into the chemical makeup of the many drugs that are manufactured on a regular basis. This may seem like a lot to the new incoming student, but these are essential attributes that one must absorb to become successful when choosing this particular career choice.

Although it may seem like a lot of math and science from the outside looking in, most pharmacy technician training programs that are taught in an actual college setting also require prerequisites before a student is even accepted into the program. For example a student must have a certain level of math skills coming into the program. Many require you to have a certain number of years of chemistry and biology. Along with these courses, they may require you to have courses such as keyboarding, sociology, economics, and other courses that may strengthen and enhance your communication skills.

Once a student passes all of the prerequisite courses assigned by the given college, then and only then may the student apply for admission into the actual program itself. Usually the application process can be a bit daunting and require a lot of paper work, which may include medical records, background checks, and transcripts for any prior course work that has been completed. This may seem rather tedious, but the reward from completing the program outweighs all the early red tape one must fight through to get accepted.

Now that the student is accepted, it is now time to schedule their classes. Most programs follow the same format. Many technical schools have the course work broken down into two semesters and a clinical lab immediately following the course work. Many students that do well in their clinical work get hired on as full time employees. How is that for a benefit? Here is a general break down of how many colleges structure their semester course work:

Pharmacy Technician Training:

Here is a breakdown of what a typical pharmacy technician semester course work will typically look like. Course work and class length will vary from school to school. (Results may vary) Please check your local college admissions office for further details. Some courses may be passed over due to prior college coursework. Most programs run for two semesters. Generally semester two ends with a four week clinical.

Communication skills – entry level
Medical Terminology
Computers in healthcare
Keyboarding or typing
Introduction to pharmacy operations
Pharmaceutical math and pharmacy calculations
Introduction to Drug Classification
Pharmacy Clinical experience (phase 1)
Pharmacy Customer Relations
Institutional Pharmacy Practice
Orientation to Sterile Solutions
Pharmacy Operations Lab
Pharmacy Clinical experience (phase 2)
Applied Pharmaceutical Calculations
Psychology of human relations (Introductory Psychology may be used as a substitute)

There are many Pharmacy technician programs that are starting up every year. When you first glance at them, they may seem like the perfect match for your career needs. Before committing to them, it is wise to dig deeper into what they offer, how long they have been around, and if the program they offer is accredited by The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). The program’s main goal is to educate future pharmacy technicians with the skills and knowledge to secure employment in a variety of pharmacy settings. A technician that completes the training should have the confidence to walk into a community or institutional setting and perform at the highest level possible.

Looking further down the road, the career outlook for Pharmacy technicians appear to be rather promising. New mandates on medication delivery system, a shortage of pharmacists, and the life expectancy of individuals increasing, Pharmacy technicians will be in great demand for many years to come. If you are looking for a great career change with a promising future or looking to start a new professional career with many benefits, becoming a pharmacy technician could be the career choice you have been dreaming of.

Are you looking to start a new career? Are you looking to get into the health care field? Have you ever wondered what the pharmacy technician job description [http://pharmacytechniciantrainingx.com/pharmacy-technician-schools] looks like? Start researching some of the best pharmacy technician schools today. Begin your pharmacy technician training [http://pharmacytechniciantrainingx.com] today and start reaping the great rewards tomorrow.

Preparing for a Pharmacy Career Online

To properly learn to work with prescription medications inside a pharmacy, students can gain a higher education. Students that have a desire to enter the pharmacy industry may receive online training. Several colleges and universities offer students the chance to study and become pharmacy technicians or pharmacists.

The two main educational paths have students completing very different training programs. Becoming a pharmacy technician requires a lot less time in study than that of a pharmacist. To prepare for a pharmacy career students should decide if they want to become technicians or pharmacists.

Pharmacy technicians may be taught how to support a pharmacist by completing on-the-job training. More employers in today’s growing field however prefer to hire those that have completed a formal education. The best educational training program is provided at the associate’s degree level. Students gain a complete understanding of what it means to be a technician. The job duties are explored through specific courses that teach students how to prepare prescriptions, label containers, and more. Online courses may include:

*Pharmacy Calculations

Students explore the different measurements and calculations used in the profession. The main goal is to teach students how to read and calculate the correct dosage for a prescription.

*Pharmacy Technology

Technicians maintain the office and prepare insurance claims and patient profiles on a regular basis. In order to do these activities students need to be comfortable with the industry’s technology. Students study medical office administration, database management, up-to-date record keeping, and medication pricing.

Students that want to become pharmacists are required to complete a doctor of pharmacy degree program. This program has replaced the bachelor’s degree level of education. The PharmD is a six-year program that trains students how to mix ingredients and advise patients on medicine use. Before admittance to a program students are required to have at least two years of pre-pharmacy study completed. These courses typically include biology, chemistry, and physics. Many students who enter a PharmD degree first complete an associate’s degree program. This makes it an easy transition for students that are currently working as pharmacy technicians to enter education. Some online schools offer students pre-pharmacy programs to prepare them for further education. Online courses may include:

Institutional Pharmacy
Medicinal Chemistry
Pharmaceutical Calculations

Education centers on providing students with the knowledge to interact with other health professionals. The dosage and side effects of prescription drugs are learned so students understand how to correctly mix medications, which is commonly referred to as compounding. To enter a career as a pharmacist obtaining licensure is required. Students will take the North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam upon completion of the program. Forty-four states also require students to complete the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam. Another law exam is required by the remaining eight states. Students should research their states exam requirements to ensure proper licensure is gained.

A pharmacy career can be entered when students complete the proper training. Students should decide which level of education is for them and start the learning process today by enrolling in a program that is accredited by an agency like the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (http://www.acpe-accredit.org/). Accreditation is provided to programs that offer the best pharmacy career training available.

Canadian Pharmacy – Your Source of Cheap Drugs

There have been warnings from different U.S. agencies regarding the purchase of drugs from a Canadian Pharmacy. Despite these warnings, the number of Americans who buy from them are still growing in number. Some governments have been crossing the border into Canada to buy prescription drugs because costs of purchase save people a big amount of money. Since more and more people find it difficult to manage their finances due to the downward economy, they find means and ways to save money and cutting down their expenses on medications is one of the solutions they see.

Drug costs continue to rise and the Americans are projected to spend billions of dollars on prescription drugs alone according to the US Department of Health and Human Services. Since Canada’s government regulates their prescription drug prices, you can expect to buy from a Canadian pharmacy at a price that is within your reach. If you buy insulin from a Canadian pharmacy, expect to save $250 annually. This is already a big savings to the family who earns a meager income.

Thanks to the World Wide Web, you can now buy cheap medicines from an online Canadian pharmacy. The good thing about purchasing from these pharmacies is that you do not have to pay for overhead charges. Generics are available to the customers and this can save you a lot of money instead of buying the branded medicines. The quality of these medicines is extensively regulated. Buying online can save you from having to make trips to the local drugstore.

Technically, it is illegal to bring import drugs into the US soil from Canada or from any other country, but the Food and Drug Administration does not seem to be disturbed about certain types of drugs being ordered online. If you are concerned that your shipment will not reach you, customs usually does not take notice of drugs being shipped just as long as they are for personal use and are considered to be not more than a 90 day supply.

How can you tell if you are purchasing quality Canada drugs? Make sure that you are purchasing from a licensed Canadian pharmacy. You may ask for the credentials of the Canadian pharmacy or see if they have a pharmacist on board. Fake Canadian pharmacies usually do not have with them an in-house pharmacist. If the pharmacy is unable to give you these relevant information, then you should look elsewhere.

Another important thing that you should remember is never attempt to buy prescription drugs online without a valid prescription. There are pharmacies that have a distant online or telephone doctor and this is something that should be avoided at all times since an invalid prescription may result in you having to pay for thousands of dollars in fines and you could even be put behind bars.

If you are looking for quality drugs that have low prices, then a Canadian pharmacy can give you a more competitive price. Just be sure that you are purchasing from a licensed pharmacy and this might save give you up to 80% savings.

Are Canadian Pharmacy Online Services Safe?

There has been much ado lately about Canadian Pharmacy Online medications. Everyone is concerned about the rising costs of prescription medication. As the American public and particularly the “Baby Boomers” age, more medication is often required to maintain quality of life and to control chronic illness. Many do not have proper prescription drug insurance coverage.

The recent negative media pointed at Canadian Pharmacy mail order prescription services has caused some people to be a little leery of them. Customs has on occasion, confiscated medications crossing the border because required documentation was missing or incorrect. Another issue with mail order services is that some do not supply the identical medications. And of course there is always some rotten apple working the angles.

Some people have turned to Asian mail order medication services only to learn that what they received was the wrong medication or did not contain the correct dosage as prescribed by their U.S. doctor. Asian and Mexican mail order medication services are not governed by the same strict guidelines as those in the U.S. and those that control the Canadian Pharmacy industry.

All is Not Lost Though

There are safe, cost-effective, legal mail order prescription services available. Here is what to look for when selecting a Canadian Pharmacy service.

* Does the mail order service require your doctor provide proof, and do they confirm the prescription with your doctor?

* Does a licensed doctor (in the country providing the prescription) co-sign that prescription once verified by your doctor?

* Do the medications originate in a country known to provide identical medications as those available in the United States, such as Canadian Pharmacy Online services provide?

* Does the mail order prescription service provide significant savings over U.S. drug costs, like 30% or more?

* Will the mail order company provide prompt service, making certain that all the documentation to clear U.S. Customs is precise?

If you are considering a Canadian Pharmacy for some or all of your prescriptions and they meet ALL of the above criteria, then you can save money and get medication you can trust.

Most Americans today who use mail order medication services have found many Canadian Pharmacy services that meet all the criteria above. These are reliable, safe and cost-effective services. These Canadian Pharmacy services provide the identical medications or generic equivalent, ensuring you receive precisely what is prescribed by your doctor.

By using a Canadian Pharmacy Online prescription service, you can save as much as 30% or more. If you’re considering Medicare Part D, Canadian Pharmacy savings can be especially important because of the “donut hole” which makes amounts from $2150 to $5100 your responsibility.

Using a Canadian Pharmacy mail order service can enhance your coverage on Medicare Part D and help you avoid reaching that dreaded “donut hole”.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/9636

Online Pharmacy Review Sites and How to Use Them

With health care costs increasing higher and higher each day, more Americans are unable to pay for their medication. More end up sacrificing other basic costs, like tuition and food expenses. Fortunately, more American individuals have found a cheaper alternative with foreign online drug stores. Most US citizens buy from Canadian or Mexican online pharmacies. In 2007, the growth of their sales have reached over two billion dollars.

State pharmacy websites working from Canada had acquired more profits than offline pharmacies. Smaller sales were suffered specifically by pharmacy stores in Wisconsin and Minnesota. California’s local government investigated the problem themselves in Minnesota to check if it could work with their present market. Regrettably FDA has faulted Minnesota’s local government, saying they could be operating under an unlawful scheme with internet orders.

Clearly there is a disparity between online pharmacies and their legitimacy. The Food and Drug Administration greatly disproves buying from these websites because many are just web rip offs. If the customer doesn’t acquire their order, they end up getting counterfeit or even dangerous drugs. You don’t even receive your cash back as the company becomes totally inaccessible.

Online pharmacy review sites are the solution to preventing such web rip-offs. Limit your options to the sites with good reviews and high evaluations. Look at the comments and reviews well. If there’s is any indication of bad feedback and unreliable service, it is most practical to forget that website. To recheck its legitimacy, study the website itself. If it is direct to the point about its medicines and instructions, you will not have a problem buying then receiving the medicines from the company.

To set aside more cash, look for sites that provide generic medicines. Double check if the generics sold are still under patent policy protection. If the generic drug they provide still has its brand name counterpart patented, they’re obviously marketing fake medicines. You may face a heavy penalty if the customs get hold of your purchase.

Studying the Internet pharmacy industry guarantees one of a secure medicine purchase. As soon as you have picked a legitimate online pharmacy, you can enjoy the reduced costs and budget more for other important expenses.

Let’s Put An End To Concerns About The Safety Of Licensed Canadian Pharmacies

While it is well-known that prescription medications from Canada are less expensive than the same drugs in the U.S., many consumers have concerns about the safety of Canadian drug imports. But is there any real reason for consumers to fear purchasing medications from licensed Canadian pharmacies?

The fact is, drugs purchased from licensed Canadian pharmacies generally come from the same U.S. drug manufacturers that ship them to American pharmacies. Legitimate pharmacies in the U.S. and Canada rarely, if ever, receive counterfeit medications.

In 2003 the U.S. House of Representatives approved importing prescription medications from Canada by a vote of 243 to 186. The U.S. Senate has voted similarly. Many state and local governments are currently purchasing Canadian medications for their employees. These actions by government officials speak volumes about the quality of drugs coming in from across the border.

Canadians drugs from licensed pharmacies are safe — period. So, why has the Bush Administration opposed legalization? The pharmaceutical lobby has enormous influence in Washington — and they are worried about their profits. Millions of Americans are already buying their prescription drugs from Canada. Big drug companies such as Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline have even gone so far as to refuse to sell to Canadian pharmacies that ship medications back to the United States.

Debates about these programs continue in congress and support for legalizing the importation of prescription drugs from Canada goes both ways. Supporters contend that the added pressure will force the American government to allow the importation of prescription drugs from Canada forcing American drug companies to lower their costs. Others against importation believe that Canadian drugs are unsafe so importation is out of the question, and since the cities and states are cutting into the profits of the drug companies by importing from Canada, it is just going to force them to raise prices in America even more.

Does this sound like a safety concern to you?

Cary Byrd is the President of eDrugSearch.com as well as an author and authority in the pharmaceutical search industry. eDrugSearch.com is a consumer healthcare portal that brings together the worldÂ’s most highly respected online pharmacies through a free, easy-to-use search engine. eDrugSearch.com advocates licensed online pharmacies as a safe and widely accepted alternative for those seeking the cost benefits, enhanced privacy, relative convenience, and increased access to generic drugs made possible by ordering prescription drugs online.

Online Pharmacies and Telemedicine

Not a day goes by when our email inboxes do not fill with advertisements for prescription drugs. Many of these emails promise to deliver drugs of all classes by overnight courier without a prescription. While there are legitimate online pharmacies, and the practice of telemedicine or cyber-medicine is gaining acceptance, this change in the way medicine is being practiced is rocking the foundations of the medical establishment. Being able to consult a doctor online, and obtain prescription drugs delivered to your doorstep by UPS has broad social and legal implications. The Internet facilitates making drugs available to those who may not be able to afford to pay US prices, are embarrassed to see a doctor face-to-face, or are suffering from pain, the treatment of which puts most doctors in direct conflict with the ‘war on drugs’ but on the other hand there is the question whether these pharmacies make drugs available to recreational drug users without the oversight of a licensed medical practitioner.

The Need for Alternatives

Medical care in the US has reached a point where it is expensive and impersonal which has caused the consumer to become generally unsatisfied with the medical establishment as a whole. Examples include the huge differences between the cost of drugs in the US and Canada, long wait times in US pharmacies, and poor service in general. Perhaps realizing this, US customs appears to tolerate the millions of Americans that visit Canada every year to buy their medications, as for the most part, these ‘drug buyers’ are elderly American’s that can’t afford the high cost of filling their prescriptions in the US.

Rather than to travel to Canada or Mexico millions of Americans are now turning to the Internet for both their medical needs. Telemedicine (or cyber medicine) provides consumers with the ability to both consult with a doctor online and order drugs over the Internet at discounted prices. This has resulted in consumers turning to online pharmacies for their medical needs, and in particular pharmacies with a relationships with a physician, which allow the consumer to completely bypass the traditional brick and mortar pharmacies, with the added benefit of having their physician act as an intermediary between the consumer and the pharmacy. According to Johnson (2005) this is as a result of consumers becoming very dissatisfied when it comes to dealing with both brick and mortar pharmacies and medical practitioners. As Johnson, notes, “Consumers are more likely to know the name of their hairdresser than their pharmacist.” When Johnson (2005) rated the various professions within the health care system, he found that pharmacists had the lowest interaction with their patients than did any other group. Today, as a result of this “consumers are buying 25.5 percent of their prescriptions online, opposed to 13.5 percent of which are picked up at a brick and mortar pharmacy” (Johnson 2005).

Drugs and Society

What has brought so much attention to online pharmacies is that it is possible to obtain just about any drug without a prescription online. Many of these prescriptions are for legitimate purposes purchased through an online pharmacy because the buyer is too embarrassed to visit the doctor or for other reasons including the unavailability of FDA approved drugs to the consumer. These drugs may include steroids that due to their misuse and being classed as a classed a category three drugs, are seldom prescribed by physicians. These drugs have a useful purpose to those suffering from any wasting disease such as AIDS, they also play a role in ant-aging (FDA, 2004).

The Doctor Patient Relationship

Today a visit to a doctor is generally brief, much of the triage it is done by a nurse or a nurse practitioner with the doctor only dropping in for a few minutes, if at all. In many cases the patient is seen by a nurse practitioner. One of the arguments against telemedicine or perhaps a better term is cyber-medicine, is that the doctor does not have a physical relationship with the patients and thus is in no position to make a diagnosis, and thus can not legally prescribe drugs.

Ironically when one compares the work up that one has to go through to consult with an online physicians and compares this to a face-to-face visit with a brick and mortar doctor, one finds that the online physician, in many cases, has a better understanding of the patient’s medical condition than does the doctor who meets face-to-face with the patient. In most cases before an on-line a doctor prescribes any type of medication they insist on a full blood workup they may also require that one has additional tests performed, for example.

The AMA, the federal government, and various states claim, however, that it is illegal for a doctor to prescribe drugs without a valid doctor-patient relationship. While there are no laws at present that outlaw online pharmacies, various states have enacted legislation, or are in the process of enacting legislation to prohibit a doctor from prescribing drugs to a patient that they have not seen face to face. Some states also require that the doctor that prescribes the drugs be licensed in their state. This alone could hamper the development of cyber-medicine. According to William Hubbard (2004), FDA associate commissioner “The Food and Drug Administration says it is giving states first crack at legal action, though it will step in when states do not act” (FDA, 2004).

Internet Pharmacies

The reason that email boxes around the country fill up with offers to supply drugs of all kinds, at reduced prices, without prescriptions, and more is because people buy them as the billions of dollars the drug companies are making each year attest to. The Internet has become the drug store of choice for many.

Categories of Internet Pharmacies

Internet pharmacies are generally acknowledged to be comprised of the following five categories:

Internet pharmacies can be divided up into five different categories, as follows:

Licensed online pharmacies with a no medical affiliation.

Licensed online pharmacies with a medical affiliation

No record online pharmacies (NRP)

International online pharmacies (IOP)

Licensed compounding pharmacies

The licensed online pharmacies with a no medical affiliation are of course Drugstore.com, CVV, and others. They all require a prescription from a licensed doctor that the patient has a doctor patient relationship with. The prescription can be called in by the doctor.

The licensed online pharmacies with a medical affiliation often depend on a broker. The broker collects your medical information, and then assigns your case to one of their networked physicians. Many of these networked physicians are willing to prescribe pain killers as they believe that it is only through the use of these drugs that some people can live a harmonious life.

A Government Accountability Office (GAO) Committee on aging held in June 2004 found that “Unlicensed international pharmacies do not require a prescription, and are generally located off shore.” No prescription pharmacies can be found all over the world. Many of these sites have come under controversy as in some cases all it takes to have that prescription delivered to you by next day air, is to fill out a questionnaire online.

A study conducted by Henkle in 2002 to ascertain how easy it would be to obtain drugs over the Internet found that “37 of the 46″ pharmacy required a prescription from a licensed doctor. The emphasis was on the prescription and not on the doctor. Henkle (2002) in fact notes that some sites offered to recommend a doctor.” Henkle (2002) was able to obtain prescription drugs from nine sites outside the US during the study, without a prescription.

Online pharmacies with a doctor affiliation

There are a number of online pharmacies, with a medical affiliation is that take great pain to differentiate themselves form unlicensed overseas pharmacies. These pharmacies, stress that they are “American based companies that provides consumer’s easy access to FDA approved online prescriptions over the Internet and are quick to point out that “An online consultation can be just as relevant as an in-person consultation.” It is interesting to note that many of these online pharmacies also point out that “While they are committed to making access to online prescriptions easier, they believe that the Internet can not replace the importance of regular doctor visits to fully evaluate your health and any medical conditions.” Many of these online pharmacy sites also makes a wealth of drug information available on its web site that enables the consumer to educate themselves on drugs that may have been prescribed. The Internet has for all intensive purposes is quickly replacing the brick and mortar base physician as a patient’s primary health care provider.

A sales pitch, of course, or is it? Most of the legitimate online pharmacies ensure that they comply with state and federal regulation. The doctors are licensed in all 50 states and their pharmacies are too. These legitimate Internet pharmacies cater to those that are looking for a better price; for some it comes down to making the choice of eating cat food on crackers in order to afford their medications because of the high US drug prices. In other cases patients resort to cyber-medicine to avoid the embarrassment of having to deal with a physician or pharmacy that may be judgmental. Many of these online pharmacies will arrange a consult with a licensed, medical doctor over the phone and will then fill the prescription accordingly.

According to Henkel (2000) “More and more consumers are using the Internet for health reasons” and references a study carried out by a market research firm Cyber Dialogue Inc., “that found that “health concerns are the sixth most common reason people go online” (Henkel 2000).

For many people a trip to the pharmacy is an ordeal. In some cases the local pharmacy may also be located in the closest town which may mean a long drive if one lives in a rural community. Online pharmacies provide a means through which their prescriptions can be delivered conveniently and quickly. Being online also allows the consumer to shop for the best prices, an important factor if one is living on a pension.

The Internet has also created a more aware user. It is not unusual for a consumer to research drugs on the Internet. A consumer may have seen a TV or magazine advertisement advertising a new drug. Ultimately, the Internet also provides the consumer the opportunity to enter into a doctor patient relationship that may in fact be more legitimate than the doctor who makes a physical appearance. Further information on doctors that practice telemedicine can be found at: http://www.becomeone.com

It is interesting to note, as discussed previously, that consumers are becoming dissatisfied with the care and treatment they receive from both brick and mortar physicians and pharmacies. Zanf (2001), references a study by Lang and Fullerton that “Identified four factors related to outpatient pharmacy services: professional communication, physical and emotional comfort, demographics, and location and convenience.” All of which are contributing factors as to why more and more consumers are resorting to cyber-medicine.

The Dark Side

There is also a dark side to the Internet pharmacy, as previously discussed, spam email touting the availability of any prescription drug one could want, without a prescription, is something everyone is familiar with has reached epidemic proportions.

From Ambien, and of course Viagra to more powerful drugs such as Oxycontin, you can have it all. Over night shipping is available in most case, or so these emails proclaim.
In some instances this pharmacy spam originates from unscrupulous individuals who have no intention of delivering the drugs, realizing that very few people, if any, will complain about the non delivery of an illegal drug through the mail.

In other cases the drugs are sent without a prescription from countries where that particular drug may legally be sold without a prescription, or at least the laws are more relaxed. Valium, for example, is sold over-the-counter in Taiwan.

According to Crawford (2004) “Consumers who purchase drugs online thinking that they are they are getting the same drugs as they would from their local brick-and-mortar pharmacy are being misled, and as a result are putting their health, and eventually their lives at risk” Crawford cites examples of Internet pharmacies supplying drugs that were under strength, contaminated and mislabeled (Crawford 2004).

According to Won (2005) Drug-industry executives think the Internet and mail-order operations will be the biggest source of counterfeit drugs over the next five years, according to a report released today by Ernst & Young. According to James G Dickinson (2005):

The federal government in July shut down an alleged illegal Internet pharmacy for selling counterfeit drugs and issued a warning on other counterfeits found to have been sold in Mexican border pharmacies to individual patients from the U.S. The Internet pharmacy had sold more than $7 million in counterfeit Viagra and other prescription drugs over the past five years, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. The San Diego-based operation required individuals to complete a $35 “doctor consultation” survey before receiving the prescriptions, but the survey was never shown to a health professional to evaluate whether a safety risk existed, the paper says (Dickson, 2005).

In a separate action, the FDA warned Americans about counterfeit versions of Merck’s cholesterol drug Zocor and generic Carisoprodol – used for treating musculoskeletal conditions – that had been imported from Mexico by individual Americans (FDA, 2005).

Over the last year patients suffering from pain, and other conditions that they are reluctant to see a doctor face-to-face, have had the option of consulting a doctor online. The ability to consult with a doctor online, and then to receive drugs as a result has come under much controversy. This has for the most part been as a result of not adequately screening patient’s records, or ordering from unregulated overseas pharmacies.

The Internet – a new way of marketing

Not all Internet pharmacies are illegitimate, however, and there are many pharmacies that provide the consumer with a legitimate prescription by overnight service. My last prescription came by mail. The whole transaction was completed over the Internet. It was a prescription that my doctor had given to me personally, however. As discussed, what constitutes a doctor patient relationship is at the crux of the online pharmacy debate. This of course has implications as to what constitutes a legitimate prescription. What constitutes a legitimate prescription is a hotly debated topic.

The Future

As noted, being able to consult a doctor over the phone, and then have one’s prescription filled by an Internet pharmacy is convenient for many people. As the American population ages, more and more people will have trouble getting to the doctors office, not to mention driving to the pharmacy. Clearly safeguards are needed if cyber-medicine is to raise the quality of medical care available to Americans. The online pharmaceutical industry has taken a number of steps to ensure that consumers are protected against unscrupulous online pharmacy operators including the certification of online pharmacies.

According to Henkel (2000) “One way consumers can ensure the quality of an online pharmacy is to look for the Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites (VIPPS) seal.” According to Henkel (2000) any site bearing this seal has gone through a rigorous series of quality checks which are part of the Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites program. Unfortunately as Henkel (2000) notes, “Because VIPPS certification is fairly new and voluntary, only a few sites have been certified so far.” Recognizing the problem of ‘rouge’ pharmacies, SquareTrade, has also implemented a program to protect consumers from ‘rouge’ pharmacies. According to SquareTrade, “The Licensed Pharmacy program verifies that your business is a pharmacy in good standing. Verified pharmacies can display the Licensed Pharmacy Seal on their websites – distinguishing themselves from unverified and rogue pharmacies.”

If these safe guards are not put in place, and legislation is enacted that makes it illegal to obtain a prescription from an online pharmacy based on an online consult, the black market for drugs will continue to thrive. Customs by its own admission only catches approximately 2% of all illicit prescription drugs that enter the US.

Negating the fact that through technology, one could enter into a doctor patient relationship that may be affordable. Security, as some have suggested could be accomplished through the use of video cameras and biometric scanners which would cut down on the number of fraudulent prescriptions written. Measures like these would put the convenience of using an online pharmacy out of the reach of those without the technology. One could also not prevent consumers from using off shore online pharmacies. While the FDA is presently trying very hard to get the Canadian government to enact legislation that would prohibit the export of drugs from Canada by mail it appears that the profit that results from the sale of drugs is causing the legislation to stall. As one Canadian pharmacy owner noted, however “We will just move to the UK.”

Ironically, the Canadian’s are offering to crack down, not because of any concerns relating to the sale of drugs online, but because Canada controls drug prices, making them far cheaper than the same drug in the US. The Canadian authorities are planning on cracking down “arguing that the system was created to help Canadians, not Americans.” The drug industry itself has gone so far as to black list Canadian pharmacies that sell to American customers over the Internet. With all the paranoia relating to terrorism there is a concern that any drug coming in from another country may be contaminated. There are no instances on record of a consumer having received a contaminated drug from Canada (Matthews, 2003).

Even more ironically with all the talk about the dangers of drugs purchased from overseas, some legitimate companies are now being forced to buy from other than US sources because they have been black listed by US drug manufactures (Matthews, 2003). Mathews (2003) goes on to illustrate this by pointing out that “Canadian suppliers, in particular, that have been blacklisted, are now turning to sources in Europe.” Mathews (2003) notes that while for the most part these European sources are legitimate and make a high quality drug. In some cases, however Mathews et al. (2003) note that the pharmacies are having to go ‘farther a field’ to find product.

Conclusion

While there need for controls to be put in place to regulate the practice of both medicine online and Internet pharmacies, we also need to acknowledge that science and technology has furthered the practice of medicine, and that the Internet will further it yet.

The Internet has the potential of expanding medical care to those that may not routinely seek it, or are too infirm to travel to the doctor’s office. While the present trend appears to be to make it illegal for a doctor to prescribe drugs without seeing the patient face-to-face there is also a move to establish rules and regulations that ensure that patients receive quality care over the Internet. Unfortunately medicine and politics have become so intertwined and doctors have inadvertently become unwilling agents in the war against drugs.