E-retailer sells drug for sleep disorder, FDA promises action

  • Priyanka Vora, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: May 04, 2015 00:55 IST

Some buy shoes, clothes and jewellery, some browse for books, and some get their daily dose of medicines from the Internet.

Two days after the Maharashtra Food and Drug Administration (FDA) filed a criminal case against Snapdeal.com for selling drugs online, HT placed an order with another e-retailer for a drug that can be used as a sedative.

On Sunday, HT ordered a batch of 60 tablets — of 3mg each — of melatonin for Rs900. The drug, doctors said, is prescribed for sleep disorders and jet lags.

Anybody who searches for a sleeping pill on the Internet will be led to this drug and to websites that sell it as a ‘dietary supplement that promotes a good sleep’. “It is sold as a dietary supplement abroad, but in India it falls under the category of a drug that is given for sleep disorders,” said Dr Pratit Samdani, physician, Breach Candy Hospital. “It can have side-effects such as drowsiness, affecting alertness and also can be harmful if taken during pregnancy,”

Doctors said melatonin is one of the most misused drugs for sedation.
FDA officials said many websites and company market such products as dietary supplements. “We will have to look into the sale of melatonin,” the official said.

The state FDA has identified 18 websites that sell drugs online. The Drugs and Cosmetic Act, which governs the sale of drugs in India, clearly states that drugs can be sold by an agency having a licence issued by an appropriate authority such as the FDA.

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