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Seeking a level playing field, a number of online pharmacies companies have come together to form the Indian Internet Pharmacy Association (IIPA). Prashant Tandon, CEO of 1mg and president of the IIPA, told MediaNama that over the last two months, many vendors of online pharmacies have faced a lot of resistance from local authorities.

Tandon added that local vendors for companies such as Zigy, PharmEasy and mChemist were pulled up by inspectors. “In Delhi, there was an FIR filed against the promoter of mChemist who was the former compliance head for Ranbaxy,” he added. “These are very senior people in the field who know what they are doing.” mChemist was founded by Rajiv Gulati, former president of global pharmaceutical business of Ranbaxy.

The IIPA was formed six months ago but was registered earlier this month. Its members include Bookmeds, mChemist, Medidart, Medlife, Medstar, Netmeds, Pharmeasy, Zigy.com (PM Health & Life Care), SaveOnMedicals, Savemymeds and 1mg, as indicated by this Pharmabiz.com report.

Tandon stressed that there were a lot of misconceptions on what online pharmacies in India are doing. He explained that they are not manufacturing medicine and retailing them online and that they are web platforms and the orders are fulfilled by pharmacists. He added that they are protected by the IT Act for acting as an intermediary and that the vendors are required to adhere to the Drugs and Cosmetics Act.

Also read: 1mg Founder Prashant Tandon on how the online pharmacy business works

No clarity from the DCGI

Earlier in December 2015, the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) had constituted a seven member sub-committee to examine the risks and issues with selling drugs over the Internet. The DCGI had appointed industry body FICCI in June 2015 as the nodal agency to consolidate and frame guidelines for sales of medicines through e-commerce.

However, there is not word from the DCGI about the rules yet.

Temporary ban on sale of medicine online

Earlier in January, DCGI issued a temporary directive banning the sale of medicine online and asked all state governments and union territories to take action against the e-pharmacies.

Many pharmacy and chemist associations in India are against the sale of drugs through online stores. In June, the Indian Pharmacists Association (IPA) had written to the DCGI saying that online pharmacies are in contravention of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act of 1940. As per Section 42 of Pharmacy Act “Only Pharmacist can dispense medicine on the prescription of a doctor.” And whoever contravenes these provision is punishable with imprisonment.

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