New Delhi: Online retailers Amazon and Flipkart have committed to prevent sales of “unregulated and fake cosmetics" in a meeting with the drug regulator, after an investigation found that some resellers on their websites were selling illegally imported beauty products.

Representatives from online retailers met officials of the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) on 1 November, after they were served show cause notices in October for selling cosmetics in contravention to the provisions of Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940.

Amazon and Flipkart were found to have been selling “adulterated" and “unregulated" cosmetics on their websites, according to DCGI. Products such as stem cell-based cosmetics, serums, skin whitening creams, glutathione injections and hyaluronic acid filler injections were among illegally imported products that were being sold.

Several cosmetics contained ingredients that are not permitted for use on humans, said two officials familiar with the investigation said on condition of anonymity.

The drug regulator told senior executives from Amazon and Flipkart to stop such sales or face stringent action, including a formal police complaint.

The retailers have also been asked to provide on their websites’ information such as the license number of the cosmetics seller, name of the importer and validity of their license.

“They have been told to start correcting their system. They are going to delete all such products from their sites and are also going to have different agreements with sellers to prevent sale of fake cosmetics," said S. Eswara Reddy, DCGI.

The drug regulator found that cosmetics are being sold without evaluating their safety and quality. The intelligence cell of the central Drugs Standard Control Organisation has identified distributors of illegally imported products and manufacturers of spurious and unlicensed cosmetics.

“Online retail has led to significant increase in easy availability of unregulated cosmetics. Products like injectable cosmetics and stem cell-based therapy were found to be sold on the websites," one of the two people cited above said.

The regulator carried raids at 30 locations in eight states and seized items like mesenchymal stem cell based creams, Oral Glutathion & placenta, Glutathion injections, Hyaluronicacid injections, botulinum toxin injections, Hair serum, peels made with various ingredients, Collagen Pyruvate, Biotin hydroxin, caffeine 10%, anti hair loss solutions, Skin Peel exfoliators, etc.

“As per the Schedule S to the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, cosmetics shall conform to the standards laid down by Bureau of Indian Standards and no cosmetic shall contain any ingredient stated in negative list of BIS," said the notice sent to these online retailers.

Mint has reviewed a copy of the notice.

The Drugs and cosmetics Act, 1940, regulates the import, manufacture, distribution and sale of Drugs and Cosmetics in the country. According to the provisions of the Act, import of cosmetics into the country requires mandatory registration.

“It is the responsibility of an online retailer to check that whatever cosmetics they are selling...are genuine and the manufacturer or the importer should hold a valid licence. If they fail to do so, stringent action will be taken against them," said Reddy.

Flipkart and IndiaMart did not respond to emails seeking comment.

An Amazon India spokesperson said that it is a third-party marketplace, “which enables sellers to list their products for sale to Indian customers. Sellers on Amazon.in own their respective products and are responsible for product compliances, as maybe... As an intermediary under the Information technology Act, Amazon.in does take reactive action against sellers who are selling illegal or fake products, as the case may be".

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