While no final decision has yet been taken on the issue, the official said the exercise to regulate e-pharmacy is on.
The health ministry has taken note of malpractices reported in the sector which has led to concerns over data privacy, sales of medicines without prescription and predatory pricing
After giving a nod to e-pharmacies, the Modi government is considering a U-turn on its decision to support online sale of medicines, government sources told News18.
A top government official told News18 that the group of ministers (GoM) are in favour of the closure of e-pharmacies. “They did not propose the idea in the present shape.”
The official said the “health ministry has taken note of malpractices reported in the sector which lead to concerns over data privacy, sales of medicines without prescription and predatory pricing”.
“It’s very risky, the concession race makes the retail sector vulnerable,” the official said, adding, “The e-pharmacy may collect the data related to medicines which eventually will increase the risk involved with patient safety.”
While no final decision has yet been taken on the issue, the official said the exercise to regulate e-pharmacy is on. “It’s important to find solutions before giving a go-ahead to this industry.”
The moves reflect the U-turn of the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare from its statement given in Parliament in February.
The ministry had said that “in order to regulate the online sale of medicines comprehensively, the Government of India has published draft rules for inviting comments from the public/stakeholders for an amendment to the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945 for incorporating provisions relating to the regulation of sale and distribution of drugs through e-pharmacy”.
SHOW-CAUSE NOTICES ISSUED LAST MONTH
In February, the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) had served a show-cause notice to more than 20 top Indian e-pharmacy companies, including Amazon, Flipkart, Tata 1MG and other top players. The notices were shot a week after informing parliament that the ministry is working on creating rules for the online sale of drugs.
The reason cited for sending the show-cause notice is the contravention of the provisions of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 and the rules made thereunder. The notice alleges that these firms were found to be engaged in selling schedule H, H1 and X without a valid licence.
The move was driven by the complaint forwarded by the All India Organisation of Chemists and Druggists (AIOCD) to multiple government agencies, including the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).
AIOCD, which is an apex body of approximately 12 lakh offline chemists across India, had sent an advance notice for nationwide agitation against inaction by government agencies on the illegal sale of drugs on the online platform with predatory pricing.
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