Over-The-Telephone Prescription Bill Heads To Senate

Feb 5, 2016

Credit Felicito Rustique, Jr. / https://www.flickr.com/photos/rustique/4771313441

Legislation that would allow people to get prescriptions without an in-person exam or visit from a health care provider is headed to the Senate.  But some lawmakers aren’t comfortable taking steps forward in “telemedicine” services.

Telemedicine is health care provided remotely through, for instance, videoconferencing.  The proposed bill would allow doctors, physician assistants or advanced practice nurses to write some prescriptions for a patient without seeing them in person. 

Certain conditions have to be met. The provider must take a medical history, discuss the diagnosis with the patient and create a medical record.  Proponents say it can dramatically increase access to needed services. 

But Rep. Ed DeLaney (D-Indianapolis) says he’s worried it could lead to out-of-state telemarketers shopping drugs to Hoosier patients.

“So are they going to get on TV and see somebody in Ohio or Nevada who tells them, ‘Why don’t you take this or that and the other?’” DeLaney asks.

There’s an Indiana pilot program currently studying telemedicine.  And bill author Cindy Kirchhofer (R-Beech Grove) says most patients aren’t getting serious medications for chronic conditions.

“Here are some of the top-treated diseases via teleprescribing: sinusitis, upper respiratory infection, bronchitis,” Kirchhofer lists.

The bill doesn’t allow teleprescribing for controlled substances – drugs such as oxycodone and morphine.