In a temporary setback for online pharma companies, the Madras High Court on Wednesday granted an interim injunction restraining online sale of medicines till November 9.
In a temporary setback for online pharma companies, the Madras High Court on Wednesday granted an interim injunction restraining online sale of medicines till November 9. Acting on a writ petition moved by the Chennai-based Tamil Nadu Chemists & Druggists Association which sought a direction for restraining the sale of drugs online, justice R Mahadevan passed the interim order. The court has directed the Centre to file a counter and posted the matter for further hearing to November 9.
The association’s 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 from India who are selling medicines in violation of Rule 65 & 97 of Drugs & Cosmetics Rules, 1945 pending the notification of the rules and till the disposal of the writ petition.
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 and may put their health at risk.
According to the association, the laws for pharmacies in India are derived from Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, Drugs and Cosmetics Rule, 1945 and Pharmacy Act, 1948. These laws were written prior to arrival of computers and India does not have any concrete laws defined for online sale of medicines. The Drugs and Cosmetics Act 1940 and Rules 1945 was amended many times in the past, but no provision has been made to utilise the information technology or amended to online sales of medicines.
The medicines are not simple items of commerce, they are an essential component of patient’s health and they must be administrated to patients in a timely manner as prescribed by the registered medical practitioner.
Such drugs are provided under the direct supervision of qualified person (pharmacist) for the benefit of patients, they argued, claiming that medicines are being sold online by more than 3,500 sites all over the country.