Press Releases

Washington, DC – President Bush has signed the House version of legislation sponsored by U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) to stop rogue pharmacies operating on the Internet and protect the safety of consumers who fill legitimate prescriptions online. 

The legislation, signed yesterday, also requires a health practitioner to conduct an in-person examination of a patient in order for a prescription to be considered valid. Reps. Bart Stupak (D-MI), Mary Bono-Mack (R-Calif.) and Lamar Smith (R-TX) co-sponsored the House version.

The law will take effect in 180 days.

“Finally, we can stop these rogue online pharmacies once and for all,” Senator Feinstein said. “From now on, all controlled substances purchased on the Internet must be made with a legitimate prescription following a medical examination. I want to thank President Bush for signing into law this important bipartisan legislation.”

“The Online Pharmacy Protection Act is a crucial step in the work to reduce improper and illegal prescription medication offered over the Internet,” Senator Sessions said after Congress passed the bill last month.  “Controlled substances are too easily obtained without valid prescriptions and without proof of the buyer’s age or identity.  Law enforcement reports that this is a growing problem among children and adolescents, and it is important we take steps to block the activities of unscrupulous vendors.  I am pleased Senator Feinstein and I have worked together to see this important piece of legislation to fruition.”

The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University reported earlier this year that Controlled Substances are readily available on the Internet.  CASA identified 365 websites that advertising or sell controlled substances online.  Even worse, 85 percent of these sites did not require a prescription by the patient’s physician. 

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 Vicodin.  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 signed into law yesterday, “The Ryan Haight Online Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act of 2007,” was named in his honor.

Senator Sessions was the lead sponsor of the measure in the 109th Congress.

The bill is designed to stop Internet pharmacies that sell controlled substances without a valid prescription, not pharmacies that sell drugs at a low cost to individuals who have a valid prescription from their U.S. doctors.

Bill Summary

The Ryan Haight Online Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act of 2007 amends the Controlled Substances Act.  It:

  • Bars 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.
  • Requires online pharmacies to display information identifying the business, the pharmacist, and any physician associated with the website. 
  • Creates tough penalties for pharmacies that continue to operate outside the law.
  • Increases the penalties for illegal distributions of Schedule III, IV and V substances as categorized by the Drug Enforcement Administration. 
  • Allows 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 stoppingsales only to consumers of his or her state.