Magazine article Drug Topics

No Place like Home

Magazine article Drug Topics

No Place like Home

Article excerpt

Cyberspace cadets would have us believe that if you're not on the Net, you're nowhere. But pharmacists who've been there caution that setting up a home page requires more than enthusiasm for the information superhighway.

Larry Beierle, who bills his home page as the first pharmacy on the Internet, has tallied more than 16,000 hits since he went live in August of 1995. His site was designed originally by a friend of the manager of the deli portion of his pharmacy in San Clemente, Calif. Beierle's taken over redesigning the home page, which includes hyperlinks to pharmacy-related Web resources and search engines: http://www. liberty.com/home/foxfire is his address.

Larry's Pharmacy on-line specializes in hard-to-find mail-service drugs ordered over the Net. Beierle's clientele includes a lot of HIV-AIDS patients in search of confidentiality.

"It's definitely a moneymaker for me," he said. "But you have to be careful of the con artists, the fringe people saying that they'll be on a medication a long time and want to use me as their only pharmacy. Nah, they're bodybuilders trying to abuse the system, or dumb people who think they can get class II drugs over the Internet or think I don't know what the injectable testosterones are."

A few R.Ph.s have hitched a ride on the Internet hoping to get paid for their cognitive services. David Moll, Pharm.D., for one, put up a home page to tout his Pharmaceutical Care Associates consulting firm in Clackamas, Ore., at http;//www.wnwcorp.com/pharmca/. While he said he's "gotten to pay dirt" in the three months his site has been live, he admitted that the Internet takes sales resistance to another dimension. Pharmacists behind the counter have traditionally given their services away, so people don't expect to be charged. When R.Ph.s get on the Internet, they run headlong into the cyberspace credo that there should be no tollbooths on the information superhighway. The fact that he has a toll-free phone line and takes credit cards does boost his odds of getting paid, he added. Anthony Longo, R.Ph., owner-founder of ADL Pharmacy & Internet Consultants, Guilderland, N.Y., knows firsthand the wrath of Web denizens. Before he got into designing home pages, he answered on-line questions in a newsgroup about Crohn's disease and colitis. When he raised the issue of a fee for his services, the newsgroupies didn't just flame him, they incinerated him. "They didn't want me answering questions, and I was banned for a week," he added.

While Longo still answers questions free at the Crohn's disease and colitis Web site he created, he also set up a home page for his business at http://www.adlconsult.com. And he's putting the finishing touches on a page for the New York hospital R.Ph.s association.

A cheap option for would-be home pagers is providers such as CompuServe, America On Line, and Prodigy. Dennis Young, for example, uses CompuServe to host his site touting his pharmacy returns software package ReturnIt. His company, Professional Rx Software, Barbourville, W.Va., is found at http://ourworld.compuserve.com/ homepages/returnit.

When CompuServe added home page software and two megabytes of storage space as part of the basic subscriber package, Young jumped in. "For my basic fee of $9.95 a month, I was able to download the Homepage Wizard and design a basic home page for my business," he said. …

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