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Ethical concerns with online direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical companies
  1. Henry Curtis1,
  2. Joseph Milner2
  1. 1 Philosophy, SUNY Albany, Albany, New York, USA
  2. 2 Family Medicine, Albany Medical Center, Albany, New York, USA
  1. Correspondence to Henry Curtis, Philosophy, SUNY Albany, Albany, NY 12222, USA; hcurtis{at}


In recent years, online direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical companies have been created as an alternative method for individuals to get prescription medications. While these companies have noble aims to provide easier, more cost-effective access to medication, the fact that these companies both issue prescriptions (via entirely online medical reviews that can have no direct contact between physician and patient) as well as distribute and ship medications creates multiple ethical concerns. This paper aims to explore two in particular. First, this model creates conflicts of interest for the physicians hired by these companies to write prescriptions. Second, the lack of direct contact from physicians may be harmful to prospective patients. After analysing these issues, this paper argues that there ought to be further consideration for regulation and oversight for these companies.

  • quality of health care
  • health care economics
  • interests of health personnel/institutions

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  • Contributors HC planned the paper and wrote all but the section titled 'Necessity of In-Person Medical Evaluations'. All research and writing for that section was contributed by JM.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement There are no data in this work