Government looks to regulate online sale of medicines
The government is considering making it mandatory for buyers to upload an e-prescription while ordering medicines online as part of its effort to regulate online pharmacies (e-pharmacies).
Following the drugs consultative committee (DCC) recommending the government “...include the provision for uploading the e-prescription in the rules on epharmacy…”, the Union health ministry plans to include the provision in the draft guidelines currently being drafted for sale and distribution of drugs through e-pharmacies.
In August last year, the health ministry issued a draft notification that barred the sale of medicines without registration online and also banned the sale of narcotics, psychotropic drugs and tranquillizers, for which it made amendments to the Drugs and Cosmetic Rules, 1945.
“The matter of regulating online pharmacies is being deliberated at length and e-prescription was one of the recommendations made that could be considered,” said an officer in health ministry, on condition of anonymity.
According to the draft, online pharmacies will be registered under the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation and the trade licences obtained from any state will be applicable across India.
Online pharmacy companies say they would need to know how the government defines e-prescription to determine the feasibility .“It could probably be just an electronic copy of a prescription and not a digitally-generated prescription. Until we know the definition, it’s difficult to say whether it will work or not,” said Pradeep Dadha, founder, Netmeds.com.
For digitally generated prescriptions, Prashant Tandon, founder, 1mg.com, says, “This will be counterproductive since it reduces consumer choice and forces direct linkage between doctors and specific pharmacies. It’s important that the doctor should have a choice to decide if they want to use paper or e-prescribe and the consumer should be able to purchase from whichever channel they feel appropriate.”