Want evidence that prescriptions based solely on an online consultation aren’t legal? Look to the New York Dept. of Health’s decision last week revoking the medical license of Dr. Joyce Wong Buckley.
What did (former) Dr. Buckley do? It would appear that writing prescriptions for an Internet pharmacy’s customers without ever physically examining them can get you charged with 78 counts of misconduct, including gross negligence, failure to comply with state laws and regulations, and failing to maintain patient records. Even if the prescription drugs aren’t controlled substances. (The complaint didn’t indicate which Internet pharmacy or affiliate network was involved.)
There are two things about the complaint and findings that we find especially interesting:
# Dr. Buckley made $2.00 for each prescription she wrote. We’ve heard of cases where the doctor was making $3.00 or $4.00 per prescription. But knowing how doctors value their time, it’s hard to believe that doctors in cases like this take a good ten or fifteen minutes to review each patient’s history, call them, et cetera. If they did, they would only make $10 – $20 an hour. The incentive in cases like this is to simply race through the prescriptions, signing one every few seconds.
# None of the drugs that Dr. Buckley prescribed were controlled substances. There were only four drugs listed that Dr. Buckley wrote prescriptions for: Soma (a muscle relaxant), Tramadol (a pain killer), Fioricet (for migrane headaches) and Levitra (for erectile dysfunction). (A curious question: why do so many Internet pharmacies focus on those first three drugs, Soma, Tramadol and Fioricet?)
Additionally, one of the charges, as noted above, was “failure to comply with state laws and regulations.” It will be interesting to see if there are other charges, perhaps by the State Attorney General, that may be pending. Stay tuned.