Edwards Seeks Crackdown on Internet Drug Purveyors

North Carolina Sen. John Edwards (search) on Wednesday touted a proposal aimed at reining in soaring prescription drug prices (search), including tougher standards for Internet drug providers.

Edwards said there's a growing number of Internet-based companies offering prescription drugs and little on the books to set standards for prescription quality or to avoid price-gouging.

"We need to hold up to standards and enforce those standards," Edwards said.

Edwards also said he would grant states greater freedom to enforce new standards against Internet companies.

Under his plan, Edwards would impose new restrictions on drug companies advertising prescription drugs. He argued that many drug companies currently spend far more on advertising than they do on research.

In addition, he would limit the ability of drug companies to use patents to block the introduction of generic drugs into the marketplace.

Edwards also joined several other Democrats in calling for relaxation of rules that block the importation of drugs from Canada, where prices are far cheaper.

Drug companies argue there's no assurance of the safety of drugs brought in from Canada, but Edwards said that problem is easily overcome.

Edwards also said he would reshape programs to allow states to band together to purchase prescription drugs. Many states are huge buyers of prescription drugs for their Medicaid (search) patients. Allowing them to band together would increase their buying power and allow them to negotiate for reduced prices.