Medicine and the Law

Doctors’ duties in prescribing on the internet

Loane Skene, Malcolm Parker, Paul Nisselle



The internet provides a way for patients to obtain drugs without their GP knowing. But what are the e-doctors’ duties in prescribing for patients with whom they have no real-space contact – they cannot even see their patients, let alone physically examine them?

Article Extract

An English doctor is currently being investigated by the General Medical Council (GMC) for ‘supplying prescriptions for anti-impotence and slimming drugs via an internet website’. According to the press report, the doctor was accused of:

  • taking no steps to examine patients or to ensure that information provided by them was truthful and correct
  • failing to inform the patients’ GPs about the drugs prescribed
  • failing to provide appropriate monitoring or follow up care
  • failing to act in the patients’ best interests.

The case has apparently been adjourned ‘while the doctor’s mental health is being assessed’ to determine whether he is fit to continue practising.