Physicians should obtain a patient's medical history and conduct a physical examination before prescribing medications via the Internet, according to a new AMA policy.
AMA delegates adopted the guidelines Thursday, on the final day of the organization's annual meeting in Chicago.
The guidelines recommend that physicians have "adequate dialogue" with patients about treatment options, risks and benefits when prescribing online and that the electronic prescription information become part of each patient's permanent medical record.
The AMA also wants prescribing Web sites to disclose the names of the physicians offering the service, a practice address and any financial interests practitioners may have in prescribing certain medications.
Physicians prescribing via the Internet should be licensed in the states where their online patients live or at least meet the requirements of state medical boards, the AMA says. The new policy also recommends that physicians transmit prescriptions over secure connections.
"The AMA noted that some Web sites prescribing medications to patients electronically do not meet the minimum standards of medical care," according to an AMA statement. "Many of these companies are not establishing valid physician-patient relationships and continue to dispense drugs based solely on online questionnaires and consultations."