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The American Medical Association wants physicians who conduct business over the Internet to keep closer ties with patients, such as performing a physical exam before prescribing medications online.
In an effort to control the way medications are distributed on the web, the American Medical Association has released a set of guidelines that call on physicians to avoid prescribing medications online without first getting a patient`s medical history and conducting a physical examination. The AMA also notes that some web-based companies fail to meet minimum medical care standards by dispensing drugs through the Internet based solely on online questionnaires and consultations.
The guidelines suggest that physicians transmit only password-protected, encrypted prescriptions, and that physicians be licensed in the states where their patients live, or meet the regulatory requirements of their patients` state medical boards.
Drugstore.com says it supports the AMA`s guidelines, noting that online operations that don`t meet the guidelines can hurt the overall online pharmacy industry. "They cast a pall on those online pharmacies that do follow all the regulations," a spokesman says. Drugstore.com meets all the standards and regulations set by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, he adds.
The AMA`s guidelines also suggest that physicians operating online:
-- conduct adequate dialogue with patients about treatment options, risks and benefits;
-- follow up with a patient as appropriate;
-- maintain an updated medical record that is readily available to the patient and to his or her other health care professionals;
-- include the electronic prescription information as part of a patient`s medical record;
-- clearly disclose physician-identifying information on the web such as name, practice address and financial interests in any products prescribed.