TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Paul A. Sarlo which would require greater regulation of electronic pharmacies to ensure patient safety and consumer protection was approved by the Senate Commerce Committee by a vote of 4-0.
“Currently, unscrupulous Internet vendors are taking advantage of the high cost of prescription drugs and preying on seniors and others on fixed incomes who may be tempted by E-Mail offers that are just too good to be true,” said Senator Sarlo, D-Bergen, Essex and Passaic. “Through increased state regulation and licensure, we’ll be able to separate the responsible e-pharmacies from the con artists just looking to make a quick buck.”
The bill, S-1231, would regulate Internet pharmacies which distribute drugs to New Jerseyans, as well as electronic prescriptions. The bill would require Internet pharmacies to register with the State Board of Pharmacy prior to doing business in New Jersey, provide certification that the e-pharmacy is in good standing and licensed in the State where it is located and provide the names, addresses and State registrations of pharmacists responsible for sending prescription drugs into New Jersey. The bill also establishes increased safety standards for electronic prescriptions, requiring that practitioners who provide electronic prescriptions must perform an appropriate history and physical examination, make a diagnosis based on the exam and all diagnostic and lab tests consistent with good medical care, and ensure the availability of the physician for follow-up coverage.
The bill would include a civil penalty of $25,000 per occurrence for pharmacies and $5,000 per occurrence for pharmacists who violate this bill.
“We cannot turn a blind eye to the operations of unscrupulous individuals who would put the health and safety of others at risk to turn a profit,” said Senator Sarlo. “Many e-pharmacies are behaving responsibly, and providing an additional outlet for patients to receive their medications. However, we have to be ever-vigilant against those irresponsible vendors who don’t have the best interests of their patients in mind.”
The bill now goes to the full Senate for consideration before going to the Governor’s Desk for final approval.