E Pharmacies Current Affairs - 2020

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.

Background

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.

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Health Ministry releases draft rules for e-pharmacies to regulate online sale of medicines

Union Health Ministry has released draft rules on sale of drugs by e-pharmacies to regulate online sale of medicines across India. These rules also have been proposed to ensure accessibility and availability of genuine drugs to the people across India from authentic online portals.

Key features of rules

It is mandatory for online pharmacies to register under Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) and obtain trade licence applicable across India from any state government. E-pharmacies only need to take one licence in any state. They can sell drugs all over the country even if they have one licence.

E-pharmacies need to apply for grant of registration to Central Licensing Authority through online portal of Central Government. The registration issued to any person for e-pharmacy will remain valid for three years period from date of its issuance and renewal of registration will have to be done in case it wants to continue.

Registration of e-pharmacy can be suspended or cancelled if it contravenes any provision of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940. E-pharmacy registration holder will have to comply with provisions of Information Technology Act, 2000. It is mandatory for e-pharmacy to maintain keep details of patient confidential and not disclose it to any person other than Central Government or State Government concerned.

The supply of any drug shall be made against cash or credit memo generated through e-pharmacy portal and such memos shall be maintained by e-pharmacy registration holder as record. Sale of tranquillisers, psychotropic drugs, narcotics and habit forming drugs will be prohibited through these portals.

The premises from where e-pharmacy business is conducted will be inspected, every two years, by team of officers authorised by Central Licensing Authority, with or without experts in relevant field or officers authorised by the concerned State Licensing Authority.

It will be binding on e-pharmacies to deliver drugs in specific time that will be told to patient during time of purchase while the e-portals are mandatorily required to have 24/7 call centres. The e-pharmacy cannot advertise any drug on radio or television or internet or print or any other media for any purpose.

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