New Delhi: The health ministry is set to clarify that it is legal for e-pharmacy companies to sell drugs online, industry secretary Ramesh Abhishek said on Monday.
“The Drugs and Cosmetics Act does not say that you cannot have e-pharmacy. There is some clarity required on this. So, what the ministry of health is doing is working on some clarifications which will clarify this is allowed under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act," Abhishek said.
Offline pharmacy associations such as the All India Organisation of Chemists and Druggists that has gone on strike multiple times has claimed that easy access to medicines online can lead to irrational use, increase the risk of drug reactions, illegal sales and drug addiction among the youth.
E-pharma companies argue that they only sell medicines based on valid prescriptions, and that it is easier for users to find medicines on an online platform than in physical stores.
Dharmil Sheth, co-founder of Mumbai-based e-pharmacy company Pharmeasy, said the online pharmacy model was always in sync with the current framework of law.
“There were some (regulatory) concerns with online pharma, while our model was quite different—we tie up with local pharmacies to deliver medicines. After having reached out to a lot of government officials in the information technology, commerce and health ministries, there is a lot more clarity and understanding about online pharma, which has paved the way for creating a legalized framework," he added.
Industry lobby the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, or Ficci, had in November launched a six-point self-regulated code of conduct for the e-pharmacy sector, including processing medicines only against prescription; refraining from selling sensitive habit-forming medicines; and dispensing only from licensed pharmacies.