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Abstract

Internet-based prescribing and dispensing are poised to become major components of healthcare delivery in the United States: In 2003, eighteen percent of online U.S. households purchased prescription drugs online, a number expected to grow to twenty-seven percent in 2004. Together, this infusion of technology and the broader trend toward increased prescribing are changing the landscape of American healthcare, and the manner in which the legal system interacts with these controversial millennial delivery models will shape the future of healthcare.

This Article explores the policy issues and legal or regulatory structures currently applied to prescribing and dispensing. Much of the controversy surrounding Internet prescribing and dispensing can be attributed to the unsavory origins of these initiatives: Many of the early providers have been illegal or marginally legal businesses. This Article argues that the threat posed by rogue prescribing and dispensing does not justify the level, style, and mechanics of current regulation. The Article further argues that current and emerging regulation may chill the development of lawful, efficient, necessary, and patient-friendly services and recommends alternate approaches.

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