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Telepharmacy: Legal and Online Issues

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Telepharmacy is the integration of pharmacy software, remotely controlled dispensing cabinetry and telecommunications technologies to enable the provision of pharmaceutical services from a distance. Telepharmacy expands access to quality health care to communities nationwide, primarily in rural, medically-underserved areas.[1] Telepharmacy is something that could greatly improve and advance the heath care word not only for providers but also for patients. Telepharmacy however has many legal and privacy issues to resolve before it can become an established part of health care. Due to the high regulations on pharmaceuticals from federal and state government, it is a challenge to dispense these products over an online system.

To be a licensed pharmacy that dispenses drugs, both the pharmacy and pharmacist must be licensed by the state board of pharmacy. Internet sales complicate this requirement because of the likelihood that the requested drugs will be shipped out of state. Compiling with the home state as well as shipping state laws are something both pharmacists and pharmacies are required to do before the interstate sale of pharmaceuticals. Prescribing pharmaceuticals on the internet has become a forum for patients to abuse prescription drugs. The abuse is a growing problem in the United States partly due to the ease of purchasing drugs online. Pharmacists practicing telepharmacy have a duty to ensure that they are controlling dispensation so as not to aid in any illegal activity.

[1] Telehealth (N.D). Online Prescribing and Telepharmacy. www.telehealthresourcecenter.org. Retrieved: Dec 9, 2012. From: http://www.telehealthresourcecenter.org/toolbox-module/online-prescribing-and-telepharmacy

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