This Is the Web. This Is the Web Without Drugs.

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Illinois residents had better place their online orders for Viagra fast. On Thursday, State Attorney General Jim Ryan filed suit against four out-of-state online pharmacies, arguing that since they are not licensed by the state to practice medicine — and thus to issue prescriptions — they aren't permitted to send drugs to Illinois residents. Typically, an online pharmacy will ask a patient some rudimentary health questions, the responses to which are supposedly reviewed by a doctor before the prescription is sent out. Unfortunately for the online drug vendors, Ryan has brought in the big guns for this battle: The American Medical Association is joined by two state doctor and pharmacist groups in supporting the suit.

This attempt to block Internet drug sales highlights some of the major concerns whirling around the burgeoning practice: How can an online doctor truly know what to prescribe a patient without an examination? Who's checking patients for preexisting conditions and/or drug interactions? How can patients be sure they're getting what they pay for? Many states have shied away from pursuing Internet pharmacies, perhaps figuring their jurisdiction doesn't extend into cyberspace. If Ryan is successful in his suit, it could mean a new set of controls on Internet drugstores, and might even prompt a response from the strangely silent FDA.