Mumbai: The all-India organisation of chemists and druggists (AIOCD) on Wednesday reiterated their demand for a total ban on online sales of drugs and opposed the government plan to set up new e-portal to check antimicrobial resistance and substandard drugs.

The union health ministry is planning to set up an portal to regulate and plug the gaps in drug sales through all platforms, including e-pharmacies to ensure availability of right drugs that meet the quality standards, and also to curb anti-microbial resistance drugs apart from regulating online drug sales. According to the proposal, an autonomous body will be set up to develop and maintain the e-platform on which drug-makers, stockists, wholesalers, distributors, licenced chemists and e-pharmacies have to register.

One of the chief concerns for the ministry is the rising sale of sub-standard drugs, about which complaints continue to pour in. A recent survey published by the government showed that about three per cent of all the drugs sold in the country are sub-standard. “The proposal of e-portal by the union health ministry is completely impractical. Considering the insufficient IT infrastructure in the country, it will be difficult and difficult for most of stockists, druggists and chemists to upload the details of the sale on the e-portal within a stipulated time. We fear that this will cause drug scarcity," Jagannath Shinde, president of the AIOCD, said in a statement.

The association, which claims to represent over 8 lakh chemists, has also cautioned the ministry that online sale of medicine, if allowed, will prove hazardous to public health as unscrupulous elements can route spurious drugs to customers via online platform.

“Not only those doctors registered with the medical council of India or their respective state medical/dental councils, but also those doctors from homoeopathy, ayurveda and unani indulge in allopathic practises and issue prescriptions. “This is a serious problem and if the medicines are denied on such prescriptions, people in the rural areas will be deprived of medicines which can even lead to a law and order issue," Shinde warned.

Noting that lax regulatory mechanism is the real problem, he pointed out that drug sales are already monitored by the food and drugs administration in states.