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The advent of telemedicine led to an evolution in healthcare delivery, making it possible for healthcare professionals to provide remote patient care, thus minimizing or eliminating the need for the patient to visit a physician’s office. Recently, online telemedicine has gained significant popularity, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. This Comment focuses upon online direct-to-consumer telemedicine platforms and their modern usage as one-stop-shops for acquisition of medical advice and medication. Specifically, this Comment explores prescription promotion and prescribing as done through these platforms with a special examination of off-label prescriptions. Several modern online direct-to-consumer telemedicine platforms offer prescription medications directly to the patients who visit their websites. The platforms advertise these prescriptions on both their individual websites as well as through social media. Some of the medications offered and promoted by these platforms are not FDA approved for the conditions that they are advertised to treat. This Comment explores regulations and liability considerations surrounding prescription advertising and prescribing, specifically as they relate to online direct-to-consumer telemedicine platforms. Because these platforms claim to be neither medical providers, pharmaceutical companies, nor online pharmacies, they fall into a regulatory gap. This Comment concludes by suggesting that federal legislation or regulations should be promulgated accordingly to bridge this gap, particularly given increased dependence upon these platforms in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Northern Illinois University Law Review

Suggested Citation

Kristina L. Bitzer, Comment, Online and Off-Label: Closing the Regulatory Gap in Online Direct-to-Consumer Drug Promotion and Prescribing, 42 N. Ill. U. L. Rev. 164 (2021).

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