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Ryan Haight Online Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act of 2008

Location: Washington, DC

RYAN HAIGHT ONLINE PHARMACY CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT OF 2008 -- (House of Representatives - September 23, 2008)

Mr. SMITH of Texas. Mr. Speaker, America is no stranger to the plague of illegal drugs and drug addiction. For decades, Congress has fought to curb the flow of drugs such as heroin, cocaine, and marijuana into our country.

Today, America is facing a new threat--prescription drug abuse. According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, prescription drugs now rank second--only behind marijuana--as America's drug of choice.

The Drug Enforcement Administration estimates that as many as 7 million Americans are addicted to prescription drugs--more than the number of cocaine and heroin addicts combined.

Today, prescription painkillers cause a higher number of overdose-related deaths than cocaine or heroin. And large quantities of these drugs are just a few mouse clicks away. The dangers posed by illegal online pharmacies are real. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse reports a 542-percent increase in abuse of prescription opiates among 12- to 17-year olds between 1992 and 2002.

Hundreds of rogue online pharmacies peddle these highly-addictive painkillers to adults and teenagers without a valid prescription. The most popular of these drugs is commonly known as Vicodin.

Teenagers are fast becoming addicted to prescription painkillers, in large part because of their availability on the Internet. The Partnership for a Drug Free America reports that every day, 2,500 teenagers use a prescription drug to get high for the first time. Teenagers are abusing prescription drugs at a higher rate because they perceive them as less dangerous than illegal drugs.

Today, the House has the opportunity to put a stop to illegal online pharmacies. I am pleased to join Congressman Bart Stupak and Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack as an original sponsor of H.R. 6353, the Ryan Haight Online Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act of 2008.

On February 12, 2001, Ryan Haight died of an overdose of Vicodin. He was just 18. An investigation into his death revealed that Ryan ordered the drugs from a doctor he had never seen and who had never examined him. The drugs were shipped directly to his home by an online pharmacy.

This legislation amends the Controlled Substances Act to address the growing sale of prescription drugs by these so-called online pharmacies. The bill prohibits the sale or distribution of all controlled substances via the Internet without a valid prescription and requires online pharmacies to display information identifying the business and any pharmacy and doctor associated with the Web site. The bill also provides tough penalties for the illegal sale of prescription drugs.

Legislation sponsored by Senators Feinstein and Sessions unanimously passed the Senate in April. It is time for the House to do the same.

This legislation represents months of hard work and bipartisan negotiations by House and Senate Republicans and Democrats. I wish to thank my House colleagues, Mr. Stupak and Mrs. Bono Mack and my Senate colleagues, Senators Feinstein and Sessions, for their efforts to complete this legislation.

I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting this important bill.

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