The Madras high court on Monday slapped a complete ban on the sale of medicines online untill the Centre notifies the rules for the e-medicine marketplace. The high court has set a deadline of January 31, 2019 for the Centre to notify the rules which are reported to be in the draft stage. Justice Pushpa Sathyanarayana on Monday passed the order and asked the online pharma retailers to get approval from the authorities for their operations post notification of the rules. Till then, the court said, the stay on online sales of medicines would prevail. The judge observed that it becomes necessary for the Central government to notify the rules at the earliest in the interest of public and the on-line drug trade. Those involved in online trade of drugs have to obtain licences in the manner prescribed in the rules to be notified within a period of two months from the date of such notification, the judge said. The high court\u2019s order comes close on the heels of a similar order of the Delhi High court a couple of days ago, prohibiting sale of medicines online and asking the competent authorities to enforce the ban. The high court pronounced the order acting on a writ petition filed by the Tamil Nadu Chemists and Druggists Association (TNCDA) seeking to block the link of all such websites carrying out online sale of Schedule H,H1 and Schedule X medicines in violation of Rules 65 and 97 of the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945, till the licences are granted for such trade. The court on October 31 had issued an interim order restricting online sale of medicines without licence while directing the Centre or competent authority to curb such transactions. Post the interim order, six online pharma companies, including 1MG Technologies, Digital Health Platforms, Netmeds Market Place, 91 Streets Media Technologies, Medline International and Practo Technologies, had impleded in the matter. The firms had then sought clarification from the court whether the ban was applicable only to the unauthorised sellers. The online aggregators argued that they sell only on prescriptions, and that too through registered pharmacists. TNCDA argued that the prevailing regulation has no provisions for selling medicines online. Besides, since the draft rules are still under consideration, the current sales of medicines online are not legal. It argued that as per the existing regulation, non-OTC drugs could only be sold by a registered pharmacist against prescription and only from the premises for which the licence has been issued by the drug regulatory authority. The association\u2019s prime submission was that while the Centre had come out with draft rules titled Drugs and Cosmetics Amendment Rules 2018 recently under which e-pharmacies are allowed by obtaining licence to do sales online, it sought blocking of the link of all such websites that are selling medicines. The association, a representative body of close to 30,000 pharmaceutical retailers and wholesalers, in its plea submitted that though people find it convenient to buy medicines online, purchasing medicines from unlicensed online stores can be risky because they may sell fake, expired, contaminated, not of standard quality, unapproved drugs or otherwise unsafe products that are dangerous to patients.