Telehealth Initiatives: Internet-Based Prescribing of Medications

Document Type


Publication Date



Medicine and Health Sciences


The internet is becoming an increasingly popular way for people to gain medical knowledge and has also recently become an important means for patient-physician communication through telehealth initiatives. Telehealth related services are spreading rapidly across the globe, especially in the form of internet-based prescribing of medications. Millions of pills are prescribed on the web each year. Popular drugs being prescribed online include Viagra (sildenafil), used for erectile dysfunction, various contraceptives, and even in some cases antibiotics. Despite its popularity, online prescribing of drugs absent an established doctor-patient relationship remains unethical or even illegal in some places. Concerns raised by the FDA include negative outcome risks such as deleterious drug interactions, contraindications, allergic reactions or inappropriate medication dosing being magnified due to internet-based prescribing. Patients turn to the internet for medical information and guidance more frequently due to the relative anonymity. Additionally, they find the internet to be less intimidating and awkward compared to traditional office-based consultation. Primary concerns that need to be addressed related to internet-based prescribing include informed consent, getting a thorough medical history, patient-understandable language being used on websites, continuity of care, accountability of prescribers, and security and patient confidentiality when using online platforms.

First Advisor

Jewel Goodman Shepherd

Research Area

Health Sciences

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