NEW DELHI: Despite an order by India’s drug regulator to stop online sale of medicines till specific rules to guide the sector are in place, e-pharmacies have decided not to put their business on hold for now.
The e-pharmacy firms have reasoned that since they work only as internet-based market platforms and procure drugs from registered retailers, the order does not apply to them.
The order, issued by the Central Drug Standards Control Organisation under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to all states on November 28, said there should be no sale of medicines through “unlicensed online platforms” till draft rules to regulate are finalised and put in place.
E-pharmacies operating in the country, however, said the order does not apply to them. “The major players in the sector follow a common code adopted by the industry and we supply medicines only from licensed drug retailers,” said Prashant Tandon, CEO of the firm 1mg and president of Digital Health Platform, an association of 11 major players in the sector. “There are, however, a few black sheep who have been violating the Drug and Cosmetic Act and the order is meant for them.”
A senior executive in another Mumbai based e-pharmacy company said since the government order did not explicitly mention complete prohibition of sale by all online medicine sellers, the industry is making its own interpretation.
Drug Controller General of India V G Somani was not available for comments despite attempts to reach him. Pharmacists, however, are seeing red over the “non-compliance” of the order. “The order is very clear and if e-pharmacies try to act smart, we will file a contempt case in the HC,” said Rajeev Singhal, general secretary, All India Organisation of Chemists and Druggists.