The state shut down a pharmacy Friday, charging that it sent thousands of doses of strong and highly controlled drugs to customers all over the country who ordered them from the Internet without ever seeing doctors who prescribed the addictive medications. The Iowa Board of Pharmacy Examiners and state public-health department ordered the immediate shutdown of Union Family Pharmacy of Dubuque. The board’s Terri Wittkowski says the pharmacy was involved with the Internet site “buy-meds-dot-com” which sent the store prescriptions to fill and mail to customers. Though the Dubuque drugstore packaged the drugs and sent them out, Wittkowski says most were not for Iowa patients. They found three sent to Iowans but most were sent farther away, to 47 states in all. The board reviewed 4,750 Internet prescriptions filled since August 19, and all those prescriptions were written by just 4 doctors in Florida. They’re both drugs that can be abused and are habit-forming, and shouldn’t be used outside of the care of a physician, a doctor who doesn’t just write a prescription but makes sure the drug’s needed and won’t just create problems through overuse. It’s not just a case of trying to save money, Wittkowski says — the drugs involved included a powerful painkiller and an antidepressant that was one of the ingredients in the recalled diet drug fen-phen. There are five “schedules” in the Controlled Substances law, with Schedule 1 being street drugs that don’t have a medical use, Schedule 2 painkillers that are strictly controlled — and these were schedule 3 and 4. She says the Internet can be useful in healthcare, but shouldn’t be a means to get drugs.
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