The Union government is in the process of finalising the draft rules under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act regarding the online sale of medicines, and they will be notified soon.
The Union government informed the Bombay High Court Friday that it was likely to finalise draft rules for regulation of online sale of medicines by January end. Union government's lawyer D P Singh told a bench of Chief Justice Naresh Patil and Justice N M Jamdar that in compliance with an order of the Madras High Court, the government has "already framed draft rules, and conducted a series of meetings with experts".
The Union government is in the process of finalising the draft rules under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, and they will be notified soon, Singh added. The bench was hearing a Public Interest Litigation filed by a college professor from the city in 2015, demanding that online sale of medicines, including 'schedule H' drugs which can not be sold without doctor's prescription, be regulated.
The bench noted the issue was "crucial" as it concerns public health, and asked the Centre and the Maharashtra government about the steps being taken to ensure that medicines are sold only through licensed chemist shops.
In 2017, another bench of the Bombay High Court had appointed an amicus curiae (an expert to assist the court) in the matter. The bench asked the amicus, advocate Zal Andhyarujina, for suggestions.
Advocate Singh then informed the judges that the Madras High Court had directed the Union government in December 2018 to notify the rules regarding online sale of medicines by January 31.
The judges said they will wait for the Union government to take appropriate action, and adjourned the hearing to February 4.
In late December 2018, in a temporary relief to online pharmacy players, the Madras High Court had temporarily suspended the ban on the online sale of drugs and medicines. A framework to regulate the sector will soon be put in place. Online pharmacy players were said to have approached the Madras High Court appealing against the ban 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.