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Madras High Court suspends ban on online sale of medicines

Debolina Biswas
posted on 21st December 2018
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Giving a temporary relief to online pharmacy players, the Madras High Court has temporarily suspended the ban on the online sale of drugs and medicines. A framework to regulate the sector will soon be put in place.

A division bench of Justice P Rajamanickam and Justice M Satyanarayana of the Madras High Court on Thursday suspended the single-judge order banning the online sale of certain drugs and cosmetics until the court gives its final verdict on the matter.

The order to ban the online sale of drugs and cosmetics would have come into effect from Thursday. In a press statement, Pradeep Dadha, Founder and CEO, Netmeds said that the company is happy with the latest order. He said the ruling validates the commitment of online pharmacies to provide affordable and accessible medicines to customers across the country.

He said, "As a fully licensed pharmacy, Netmeds.com is committed to adhering to all the guidelines and standards as prescribed under the Drugs and Cosmetic Act of 1940."

online sale of medicines

Earlier this week, online pharmacy players - Netmeds, 1MG, Practo, Medlife and others - are said to have approached the Madras High Court appealing against the ban on the online sale of medicines until a new regulatory framework comes into play. The Tamil Nadu Chemists and Druggists Association (TNCDA) had filed a petition against the online pharmacies and the sale of certain drugs and medicines online in the Madras High Court.

For more than a year now, there has been a feud between online and offline pharmacy players. The major concerns against online pharmacy players have been the misuse of technology, and safety concerns on electronic prescriptions. Offline players alleged there is a threat of the use of fake prescriptions and fake medicines through online platforms.

Prashant Tandon, President of the Indian Internet Pharmacy Association (IIPA) and Founder of online pharma portal 1mg, has maintained e-pharma and online pharma models allow easy tracking and tracing of products. This, he believes, brings high accountability and compliance to the system.

The pharmaceutical business falls under the Drug and Cosmetics Act, 1940. It thus comes as no surprise that it has no mention of the online sale of medicines. Currently, the government is working to build a regulatory framework for the same.

Offline pharma players believe that until such a framework comes into play, the online sale of drugs and medicines should be stopped. Over the years, several e-pharmacists have been working closely with the government to address this gap.


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