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Prescription drug Suhagra cause for Snapdeal and seller prosecution in Karnataka

The Karnataka drugs controller will begin prosecution against executives of online marketplace Snapdeal, and an owner and staffer of Ludhiana-based retailer Herbal Health Care for selling prescription drug Suhagra-100, reports the Economic Times.

The order named Snapdeal CEO Kumar Bahl, and COO Rohit Bansal for providing a platform for the sale of the drug. MediaNama has reached out to Snapdeal for details and will update this when we hear from them. The order also named Mrs Shetty and Pushpinder Kumar Singhala from Herbal Health Care.

‘Suhagra’

On December 21, the state drug controller permitted an assistant drug controller in Belagavi (Belgaum) to begin proceedings against the two parties. Suhagra is Schedule H drug, which means that it cannot be sold without a prescription from a registered doctor. It is used for treatment of erectile disorders and pulmonary hypertension.

In 2014, drug control officers in Belagavi had carried out a sting operation by ordering Suhagra, they received the order and were able to pay for it as well. The regulator also found that the seller, Herbal Health Care did not have a valid license to sell the drug. According to ET, the order said that the seller had violated Section 18A and 18C of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, rules relating to disclosure of name of manufacturer or a drug, and sale of drugs without license.

Is Suhagra still available online? 

On ShopClues, MediaNama attempted to purchase the drug from the same seller, but the site showed that the seller is now offline.

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A search for Suhagra tablet or for Suhagra 100 does not yield any relevant result on Amazon or Flipkart. However, a Suhagra Duralong Spray has been temporarily discontinued on Flipkart, as the image shows. It is unclear when the sale of this product was discontinued, or for how long it was sold on Flipkart previously.

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When we tried to purchase the drug on e-pharmacy NetMeds, it asked for a prescription or offered the drug without a prescription after consultation with a ‘registered medical practitioner.’

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On Practo, we were asked for the prescription, or asked to upload it later, after which the order would be processed.

The case against e-pharmas

Online pharmacies are facing simultaneous cases in Delhi HC and Madras HC for allegedly selling drugs and medicines without prescriptions, for operating without any laws governing them, and for putting patient safety at risk, among others. Last week, the Madras HC stayed a ban on the online sale of medicines, and has ordered the Union Health Ministry to notify the draft rules governing e-pharmacies latest by January 31, 2019. Proceedings in the case in Delhi HC are ongoing, the court had banned the online sale of medicines, and ordered the Delhi state government and drug regulator to implement the ban, last month.

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The Union Health Ministry had released draft rules for e-pharmacies in August 2018, and invited public comments until mid-October. Read the draft rules here.

Snapdeal has faced similar cases before

  • In May 2015, the Maharashtra FDA filed an FIR against Snapdeal CEO Kunal Bahl and the company’s directors for selling prescription drugs, including Viagra and emergency contraceptives. At the time, the company had removed all products related to health & medicines.
  • Earlier in 2015, a Delhi-based lawyer took Snapdeal and Chennai-based Ohmysecrets.com to court for selling vibrators and abetting gay sex and exhibiting obscene products for violating the section 377 of the Indian Penal Code.

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I cover health, policy issues such as intermediary liability, data governance, internet shutdowns, and more. Hit me up for tips.

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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