Mr. PALLONE. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of H.R. 6353, the Ryan Haight Online Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act of 2008. This legislation addresses serious concerns about the purchase of controlled substances through online pharmacies.
According to the Drug Enforcement Agency, nearly seven million Americans are abusing prescription drugs, more than the number who are abusing cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens, ecstasy and inhalants combined.
Prescription pain relievers are new drug users' drug of choice. Nearly one in 10 high school seniors admits to abusing powerful prescription pain relievers. And prescription pain relievers appear to be among the drugs most heavily dispensed by certain Internet pharmacies using prescriptions that are issued based on online questionnaires. Most times, the doctor providing the prescription has never seen the patient or even had a conversation with them. This practice has sometimes been abused by
rogue sites and it has led to instances of addiction, overdose and death.
H.R. 6353 will go a long way in combating this harmful practice. The bill prohibits the delivery, distribution, or dispensing of controlled substances over the Internet without a valid prescription. A valid prescription is defined as a prescription that is issued for a legitimate purpose by a practitioner who has conducted at least one in-person medical evaluation of the patient.
H.R. 6353 also imposes new registration and reporting requirements for online pharmacies. The legislation before us also increases criminal penalties involving controlled substances in Schedules II, IV and V of the Controlled Substances Act.
H.R. 6353 is named after Ryan Haight, a young man who unfortunately was the victim of illegal sales of pharmaceuticals through the Internet. Ryan died on February 12, 2001 at the age of 18 from an overdose of prescription drugs he had purchased on the Internet. Ryan was prescribed the drugs by a doctor whom he never saw and was never examined by, and an Internet pharmacy delivered them to his home.
H.R. 6353 is the result of the leadership of Representative BART STUPAK [Page: H8695]
and the hard work and cooperation of the Democratic and Republican members of the Energy and Commerce Committee and the Judiciary Committee.
The bill is a bipartisan product. It enjoys the support of the administration and the National Association of Chain Drug Stores.
I strongly urge all of my colleagues to vote to prevent another needless death similar to that of Ryan Haight and vote for the passage of this bill.
Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. BURGESS. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume and rise in support of H.R. 6353. I would like to commend Congressman BART STUPAK and Ranking Member LAMAR SMITH of the Judiciary Committee for their work on this bill.
This bill prohibits the delivery, distribution or dispensing of controlled substances over the Internet without a valid prescription. Ryan Haight overdosed and died on February 12, 2001 on narcotics that he had purchased over the Internet. He was prescribed the medication from a doctor on the Internet, and the doctor never examined the patient. He was 17 when he purchased the narcotics and 18 when he died.
This bill will provide the Drug Enforcement Agency better tools to combat rogue Internet sites that are peddling narcotics to our children.
I urge Members to support this legislation.
Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. PALLONE. Mr. Speaker, I yield 5 minutes to the gentlewoman from California. Again, Mrs. Capps has played such an important role on this and other bills of this nature that are important. Reading about this legislation, it really is so crucial.
Mrs. CAPPS. I thank our chairman for yielding and for his leadership.
Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 6353, the Ryan Haight Online Pharmacy bill. And in doing so, I want to pay tribute to its author, BART STUPAK, who would be here giving this statement except that his voice ran out tonight. So I am stepping in on his behalf, but it is something that I truly support as well.
Nearly 7 million Americans are abusing prescription drugs; more than the number of individuals who are abusing cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens, ecstasy and inhalants all combined.
Over the past 6 years, we have witnessed a dramatic 80 percent increase in prescription drug abuse from 3.8 million to 7 million. That's more than double. A large number of individuals are obtaining their prescription drugs over the Internet through rogue Internet pharmacies.
Purchasing drugs online without a valid prescription can be simple: A consumer just types the name of the drug into a search engine, quickly identifies a site selling the medication, fills out a brief questionnaire, and then clicks to purchase.
The risks of self-medicating, however, can include potential adverse reactions from inappropriately prescribed medicines, dangerous drug interactions, use of counterfeit or tainted products, and addiction to habit-forming substances.
Several of these illegitimate sites failed to produce information about potential adverse side effects, effectiveness, and where the pharmacies are located.
A 2004 GAO study obtained 68 samples of 11 different prescription drugs, each from a different Web site. GAO found that 45 online pharmacies provided a prescription based on their own medical questionnaire or had no prescription requirement. Among the drugs GAO obtained without prescription were those with special safety restrictions and highly addictive narcotic pain killers.
The tragic case of Ryan Haight has already been mentioned. His mother has testified before Congress and is nationally known. Ryan died at the age of 18, as has been stated, from an overdose of pain killers, including Vicodin. He ordered these over the Internet without a legitimate prescription while he was a 17-year-old minor.
The Ryan Haight Online Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act would bar the sale or distribution of all controlled substances via the Internet without a valid prescription. In order for a prescription to be valid, it must be issued by a practitioner who has conducted at least one in-person examination of the particular patient.
H.R. 6353 would also require online pharmacies to clearly display on their Web site a statement of compliance with U.S. laws and DEA regulations. This would allow consumers to clearly identify which pharmacies are safe and which are not.
This legislation also creates a new Federal cause of action that would allow a State attorney general to shut down a rogue site selling controlled substances in any State and increase the penalties for all illegal distributions of controlled substances classified as Schedule III, IV or V substances.
This legislation is supported by the administration, including the DEA and FDA, the Chain Drug Stores, Go Daddy, eBay, Federation of State Medical Boards, and the Fraternal Order of Police.
I encourage all of my colleagues to vote in favor of this legislation. I thank Congressman LAMAR SMITH, Congresswoman MARY BONO MACK, Senator Feinstein, Chairman Dingell and Ranking Member Barton. I also want to thank Virgil Miller, Ryan Long, Caroline Lynch and Jeff Spalding with the committee staff, and Erika Orloff of Mr. Stupak's personal staff for their hard work on this bill.