Madras High Court stays online sale of medicines through e-pharmacies

Morning MEDtalks with Dr KK Aggarwal 2nd November 2018

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Madras High Court stays online sale of medicines, drugs through e-pharmacies (Advocate Ira Gupta): The Madras High Court has granted an injunction restraining the sale of medicines and drugs online, on a plea moved by the Tamil Nadu Chemists and Druggists Association (TNCDA). The injunction granted by Justice R Mahadevan will be applicable throughout India. The TNCDA had prayed for an injunction of such sale, given that the same is carried out in violation of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 and its 1945 rules.

The petition highlights that there are over 3500 sites which sell medicines and drugs online. Such unregulated sale of medicines from unlicensed online stores and e-pharmacies could involve the sale of fake, expired, contaminated, substandard quality, unapproved drugs or otherwise unsafe products that are dangerous to patients and may put their health at risk.

As noted in the petition, “… medicines are not simple items of commerce, they are an essential component of patient’s health and they must be administrated to patients in a timely manner as prescribed by the Registered Medical Practitioner and such drugs are provided under the direct supervision of qualified person (Pharmacist) for the benefit of patients…The medicines are issued only as per specific prescription and dosages as prescribed by Registered Medical Practitioner. The retail chemist or consumer has no choice to substitute any other medicine or strength of the prescribed medicine.”

It is also argued that online sale or medicines and e-pharmacies are not required in India either, since there are over 8 lakh licensed pharmacies to cater to all the medicinal needs of patients in the country, at affordable, government-notified prices. However, “If government of India is seriously thinking to permit the online pharmacies, it should be ensured that the medicines sold online are safe, effective and confirm to the quality standards specified in the Act and rules. “

In 2018, the Central Government introduced draft rules to amend the Drugs and Cosmetics laws to allow licensed E-Pharmacies. The TNCDA had sent their objections to the same, and is pending consideration. The 2018 amendment is yet to be notified (Source: Bar and Bench).

Video to watch: TEDx Video: Doctor-patient relationship watch?v=i9ml1vKK2DQ

Dr KK Aggarwal