Govt to reconsider its earlier ban on e-pharmacies?

The health ministry might soon reconsider its earlier decision to temporarily ban the online sale of medicine in India


New Delhi: If reports are to be believed, the government may very soon reverse its earlier order on ban on online sale of medicines. The decision could be based on expert committee’s comments that keeping prescription drugs out of the online platform may not be justified to the consumers in present times. The Drugs Consultative Committee has submitted its report to the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) in this regard. The DCGI’s office is now set to forward the recommendations by expert committee to the health ministry, which will then take a decision on the implementation.

In May last year, the government had asked the drug regulator to draft guidelines and introduce provisions in the law to monitor and regulate online sale of medicines. However, the regular chemists and pharmacists opposed the move and even went on a daylong strike across the country in October 2015.

The committee has reportedly suggested a number of safeguards, including a legal framework and maintenance of prescription record, while allowing sale of medicines online. It has indicated the general consensus in the government as well as among regulators to allow sale of medicines through e-commerce platforms. The suggestions include formation of a central portal to register all e-pharmacies, creating an ecosystem as well as introduction of detailed rules and regulations under the existing Drugs and Cosmetics Act to bring any violation to books. It has also recommended formation of an inter-ministerial committee to deliberate on the rules and a detailed legal framework.