Thursday, March 16

Netmeds: Why government may have bad news for 1mg, NetMeds and other e-pharmacies

In the last couple of years, online delivery of medicines has picked up and with that companies that offer these services. Tata-owned 1mg, NetMeds, PharmEasy are some of the big names in the online pharmacy space. However, it looks like the government may bring some bad news for these firms. According to a report by PTI, the Union Health Ministry is concerned over the operations of e-pharmacies and could plan strict action against them.
Ban on e-pharmacies?
The report suggests that the government is worried about data privacy, certain malpractices in the sector and even “irrational” sale of drugs. This could lead to a complete ban on e-pharmacies as well.
The ministry has sent a revised draft of the New Drugs, Medical Devices and Cosmetics Bill, 2023 for inter-ministerial consultation. According to the report, the bill states, “The central government may regulate, restrict or prohibit the sale or distribution of any drug by online mode, by notification.”
The report cites sources which said that the data privacy of patients was a big focus area. As per the report, e-pharmacies are known to collect data area-wise with regards to medicine consumption, which “increases the risks involved with patient safety.”
Reportedly, a group of ministers had said that they were in favour of a complete ban on online pharmacies.
The government had put the draft bill in public domain in July 22 and sought feedback from all stakeholders regarding taking permissions to operate e-pharmacies.
Last month, the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) had sent show-cause notices to 20 e-pharmacies. These included Tara 1mg, Amazon, Flipkart, Practo and Apollo, among others. The notice said that there were alleged violation of norms over sale of drugs online.
The notice further stated that online sale of drugs without a license could have an impact on the quality of drugs and even be a risk to public health.

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