On October 15, 2008, the “Ryan Haight Online Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act of 2008” (the “Act”) was signed by the President and became law. The Act amends the Controlled Substances Act to address online pharmacies and requires at least one in-person medical evaluation of a patient for a prescription to be valid. Additionally, the Act imposes registration and reporting requirements on online pharmacies.

I. Valid Prescription Requires In-Person Medical Evaluation

The Act amends the Controlled Substances Act to address controlled substances dispensed over the Internet. Specifically, the delivery, distribution, or dispensing of controlled substances over the Internet without a valid prescription is prohibited. A prescription is valid only when issued for a legitimate medical purpose and by a practitioner who has conducted a minimum of one in-person medical evaluation of the patient or by a covering practitioner. This requirement does not apply to telemedicine practitioners.

II. Online Pharmacy Registration Requirements

Additionally, the Act imposes registration requirements on online pharmacies. For those pharmacies registered to dispense or conduct research with controlled substances, the Attorney General has the authority to extend the scope of those registrations to cover the dispensing of controlled substances over the Internet. The Attorney General has the option to deny any registration request that would be inconsistent with the public interest.

III. Reporting, Disclosure & Licensing Requirements for Online Pharmacies

For those pharmacies with modified registrations permitting them to dispense controlled substances over the Internet, the Act imposes reporting requirements on them. Specifically, the Act requires such pharmacies to report to the Attorney General the controlled substances they dispense, in the amount specified, and in the time and manner specified by the Attorney General. This reporting requirement applies only once a pharmacy meets specified monthly thresholds.

The Act requires an online pharmacy’s homepage to display in a visible and clear manner, a statement that the pharmacy complies with the requirements of the Act regarding the delivery, sale, or offer for sale of controlled substances. In addition, the homepage is required to display a declaration that they are acting in accordance with the Act.

Furthermore, the Act requires online pharmacies to comply with state laws governing licensure of pharmacies in each state from which and to which they deliver, distribute, or dispense, or offer to deliver, distribute, or dispense, controlled substances over the Internet.

On October 15, 2008, the “Ryan Haight Online Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act of 2008” (the “Act”) was signed by the President and became law. The Act amends the Controlled Substances Act to address online pharmacies and requires at least one in-person medical evaluation of a patient for a prescription to be valid. Additionally, the Act imposes registration and reporting requirements on online pharmacies.

IV. Criminal Penalties and Offenses

The Act increases criminal penalties involving controlled substances in Schedules III, IV, and V of the Controlled Substances Act. Additionally the Act amends the Controlled Substances Act by stating that it is unlawful for any person to knowingly or intentionally deliver, distribute, or dispense (or aid or abet in the delivery, distribution, or dispensing of) a controlled substance over the Internet in an unauthorized manner. The Act further states it is unlawful to knowingly or intentionally use the Internet, or cause it to be used, to advertise the sale of or offer to sell, distribute, or dispense a controlled substance in an unauthorized manner.

V. State Cause of Action

Although the Act provides for no private right of action, the Act provides the Attorney General of any state with the authority to bring a civil action in a district court. Such actions would be to enjoin conduct that violates the Act, to enforce compliance with the Act, to obtain damages, restitution, or other compensation, or to obtain other appropriate legal or equitable relief in any case where a state has reason to believe the interests of its residents have been adversely affected by actions violating the Act.