Maharashtra’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has ordered filing of FIRs against online retailer Snapdeal.com, as also the CEO, directors and distributors for online sale of prescription drugs.
Last month, the FDA had raided the premises of Snapdeal in Mumbai following complaints about sale of medicines, including prescription drugs, through its website.
Supreme Court lawyer Anip Sachthey said, “The drug industry is a regulated industry. This sort of scenario of selling online drugs, particularly prescription drugs, will lead to wholesale manipulation everywhere. Then there is no importance for any potent drugs to be used on prescription and sold by a qualified chemist.”
Kamble said the FDA has ordered the filing of an FIR against all persons involved, including Snapdeal CEO Kunal Bahl, other directors of the company and distributors of the drugs.
Snapdeal said in a statement: “We are assisting the FDA team in this investigation and we will continue to do so. We have already delisted the products and said sellers and also stopped payment, in addition to providing all information to the FDA team as required by them.”
“There are more important issues for Maharashtra FDA to deal with,” said Ameet Naik, founder and managing partner of Naik Naik & Co.
“Snapdeal is a platform so it is still not clear to what an extent the company can be held responsible. The question here is if the company sold over-the-counter drugs or prescription drugs, which will be clear from the investigation,” Naik, added.
The FDA has also sent letters to state drugs controllers for action against the people concerned in their states, Kamble said.
The godowns of the company were searched on April 16 and 20, he added.
In a statement, the company said: “Snapdeal.com is an online marketplace which connects buyers and sellers to provide the widest assortment of products. The sellers selling online are retailers and distributors, small and medium business and large brands who typically sell offline too. Snapdeal acts as an intermediary between the seller and buyer of the products listed on the platform. Though we invest significantly in educating sellers on engaging in fair and safe sales on the platform and consequences of selling inappropriate products, at times sellers end up listing such products. Upon being notified of any such products, we delist the products and take appropriate action against such seller.”
“Delisting may be a subsequent action. Delisting the drugs by Snapdeal from its portal doesn’t mitigate the offence which has already been committed. Necessary action for any violation can be taken by the authorities if the statute warrants it,” Sachthey said. “Maharashtra FDA has taken the right step as these drugs can be used for wrong purposes. Even a chemist cannot sell prescription drugs without a doctor’s advising to do so. All formalities should have been taken care of by e-commerce players before selling them on their platform,” said Prashant Agarwal, joint managing director at Wazir Advisors.