Delhi High Court Orders Ban on sale of Online Medicines
The Delhi High Court has ordered a ban on the sale of online medicines by E-pharmacies across the country. A bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V K Rao has also ordered central and delhi governments to implement the order.
The court was acting on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Zaheer Ahmed, a Delhi based dermatologist. The main complaints in the PIL were as follows:
- Medicines worth Lakhs was being sold online everyday without much regulation and posing a huge risk to patients as well as doctors.
- Online sale of medicines is not permitted under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 and Pharmacy Act, 1948.
- The Drug Controller General of India in 2015 had clearly directed all state drug controllers to protect the interest of public health by restraining such sale online.
- By allowing unchecked online sales, the government has failed in its responsibility to protect public health and fulfill its obligation under Article 21 of the constitution (right to life).
- Drugs are different from common items; and their misuse and abuse can have serious consequences for public health.
- Internet is used by a large number of children, minors and also uneducated people in rural areas. They can become victims of wrong medication.
- Online pharmacies are working without drug licenses and are also indulged in selling psychotropic substances.
Legal Status of Online Pharmacies
The Union Health Ministry had come out with draft rules on sale of drugs by E-pharmacies in September 2018. The objective of these rules was to regulate the sale of medicines across India. The government did not ban the sale of drugs online because such sale also provides the patients in remote areas access to genuine drugs from authentic portals. The draft rules had mandated that no person will distribute or sell, stock, exhibit or offer for sale of drugs through e-pharmacy portal unless registered.