Washington Law Review


Prescription drug abuse represents a significant portion of drg abuse in the United States. Drug-seeking individuals alter, steal, or forge prescriptions to sustain their own dependence on prescription medications or to divert the drugs to sell to others at inflated rates. On-line pharmacies are a relatively new source for prescription medications and a potential target for prescription drug fraud. The federal government recently enacted the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (E-SIGN), which governs electronic signatures and preempts inconsistent provisions of state laws, such as the Washington Electronic Authentication Act (WEAA). WEAA is a legal framework that could be effectively amended to eliminate nearly all prescription drug fraud perpetrated against on-line pharmacies. However, E-SIGN preempts a crucial WEAA provision and prohibits enacting a key recommended amendment to WEAA, both of which are necessary to combat this problem. Options permissible after E-SIGN, such as voluntary self-regulation by the on-line pharmacy industry and amendment of WEAA, will not comprehensively and effectively prevent this type of fraud. Therefore, E-SIGN fundamentally alters Washington's ability to protect the public's health, safety, and welfare from prescription fraud perpetrated against online pharmacies.

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