Delhi HC order: State FDA to crack down on e-pharmacies

Consulting Drug Controller General of India: Pallavi Darade

Mumbai: A day after the Delhi High Court ordered a ban on the sale of medicines through e-pharmacies, the Maharashtra Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said they will seek guidance on implementing the order in the State.

“We are in the process of seeking an opinion from the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI). We will ensure that the order is implemented thoroughly,” FDA commissioner Pallavi Darade told The Hindu on Thursday.

She said the State FDA was the first to flag the concerns of online sale of drugs. “Since 2016, we have taken action against 47 websites. The action included issuing notices, referring the cases to respective State FDAs if the head offices were in other States, and suspending licences of chemists for taking orders online,” Ms. Darade said.

The HC order was passed on a PIL filed by a Delhi-based doctor. The PIL highlighted that monitoring of fake and illegal pharmacies is a challenge. It also raised a point that scanned copies of prescriptions are not considered authentic under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, because one prescription can be uploaded on several platforms leading to drug abuse.

“We have been fighting for this cause for a long time. We are glad that the Delhi HC has passed such an order,” J.S. Shinde, president, Maharashtra State Chemists and Druggists Association (MSCDA), said. “We want all the States to now implement this order,” he said.

Online sale of drugs is being carried out in various ways — medicine delivery platforms who act as aggregators and deliver medicines by tying up with retailers and big chain of pharmacies who have their own websites where customers can place orders. “In all cases, the fact remains that only scanned copies of prescriptions are provided by customers which is wrong. Secondly, the scope of delivering bad quality or spurious medicines is very high as there is no tab on where the medicines are being procured,” Mr. Shinde said. In 2015, the spurt in online sale of drugs had led to a strike by the MSCDA.

A similar order was passed by the Madras High Court last month. However, the court clarified that it meant the ban only on illegal sales through online platforms. The government had released draft regulations for e-pharmacies in September which called for registration of online pharmacies, inspection of premises, and had not permitted the sale of psychotropic drugs, tranquilisers.

Online health care aggregator PharmEasy’s co-founder Dhaval Shah said they are simply an aggregator of medical stores. “We only tie up with chemists who hold proper licence. For prescription drugs, we ensure that the patient provides an authorised prescription.”

“We want only quality and safe medication to reach the patients. We are against the sale of medicines without prescriptions and we ensure that our partner retail stores too function the same way,” he said.

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Printable version | Apr 2, 2020 6:45:12 AM |

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