- Legislation sponsored by Feinstein and Sessions, and included in Biden Crime Bill -
Jan 15 2008
Washington, DC – In his remarks to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Major League Baseball Commission Bud Selig today endorsed legislation to stop controlled substances from being sold online without valid prescriptions.
The legislation, sponsored by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on September 27, 2007. It was also incorporated in broad crime legislation sponsored by Senator Joe Biden (D-DE).
In his prepared remarks, Commissioner Selig wrote: “There are a number of bills that have been introduced that we wholly support, including Representative Lynch’s bill (HR 4911) and Senator Schumer’s bill (senate Bill 877) to make HGH a Schedule II Controlled Substance, Senator Grassley’s bill (Senate bill 2470) to prohibit the sale of DHEA to minors, and Senator Biden’s bill (Senate Bill 2237) to crackdown on the sale of controlled substances over the Internet.”
The Biden crime bill wholly incorporates the Feinstein/Sessions legislation, which targets rogue pharmacies operating on the Internet.
“Rogue online pharmacies have become the street corner drug dealers of the information age,” Senator Feinstein said. “For Ryan Haight, it was pain killers. For many others, it’s steroids. Either way, we need to crack down on these rogue pharmacies. Whether it’s a superstar or a teenager, we must ensure that they cannot obtain controlled substances without a valid prescription. Let me thank Major League Baseball for this support. I hope to move this legislation as soon as possible.”
“I am pleased that the Commissioner recognizes the value of this important legislation,” Senator Sessions said. “Law enforcement officers have expressed their concerns that a growing number of people are obtaining controlled substances of various types over the Internet. We are seeing great abuse by unscrupulous individuals who sell drugs without valid prescriptions and without verifying the age or the identity of the buyer. As a result, some of the most powerful and dangerous drugs are easy to obtain without a valid prescription. This legislation will take steps necessary to stop this worsening problem.”
"Across the country, we’re hearing about the booming abuse of prescription drugs, many of which are widely available online with few restrictions,” Senator Biden said. “This provision attacks the drug use problem by requiring that patients actually see a doctor before being issued powerful medications, including steroids. Cracking down on the availability of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs is an important step, and I appreciate Commissioner Selig’s endorsement of this legislation and urge its prompt passage."
Senator Feinstein first drafted legislation to stop the dangerous practices of rogue online pharmacies after Ryan Haight, a California high school honors student and athlete, died in 2001 from an overdose of the painkiller hydrocodone. He had purchased the painkiller from an online pharmacy after simply filling out an online questionnaire describing himself as a 25-year-old male suffering from chronic back pain. The doctor prescribing the drug never met or personally examined Ryan.
The legislation known as, “The Ryan Haight Online Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act of 2007,” was named in his honor.
The Ryan Haight Online Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act of 2007 amends the Controlled Substances Act. It would:
- Bar the sale or distribution of a controlled substance via the Internet without a valid prescription. A practitioner must conduct an in-person examination of a patient in order for a prescription to be considered valid.
- Require Online Pharmacies to display information identifying the business, the pharmacist, and any physician associated with the website. Pharmacies must also clearly display a statement of compliance on their homepage. This will allow consumers to clearly identify which pharmacies are safe—and which are not.
- Create tough penalties for pharmacies that continue to operate outside the law, by clarifying that such activities are subject to the current federal laws against illegal distributions of controlled substances, and the same penalties applicable to hand-to-hand sales. Internet distributors, like other drug dealers, could be prosecuted in our federal courts, and if convicted would face sentences of up to life imprisonment, as well as forfeiture of their criminally-derived proceeds.
- Increase the penalties for illegal distributions of controlled substances categorized by the Drug Enforcement Administration as Schedule III, IV and V substances. For Schedule III substances, existing maximum penalties would be doubled, up to 10 years for a first conviction, and to 20 years for a second conviction, with new penalties of up to 30 years would be added if death or serious bodily injury results. The bill adopts similar increases for Schedule IV and V substances, with longer periods of supervised release also available to follow prison terms ordered on these drug distribution convictions.
- Allow a state attorney general, after giving the U.S. Department of Justice notice and an opportunity to intervene, to shut down a rogue site across the country, rather than limiting their relief to stopping sales only to consumers of his or her state.