We missed this earlier. 

Almost immediately after the India was placed under the 21-day lockdown (which was extended till May 3 today), the Health Ministry had on March 26 issued a notification allowing all licensed pharmacies to deliver medicines at doorstep. Pharmacies can now retail all medicines to doorsteps, including Schedule H medicines — which require a prescription — as long as they receive a prescription for it physically or via email, among other conditions. This will help senior citizens living alone to get medicines at their doorstep, without having to step out and possibly exposing themselves to the virus. The other rules the pharmacies have to abide by are:

  • The chemist will have to submit an email address, which they will use for receiving prescription, to the licensing authority
  • Deliveries will be made only to patients located in the same revenue district
  • Medicines will be dispensed for chronic cases only if the prescription has been issued less than 30 days prior, and 7 days prior in case of acute cases
  • The bill or cash receipts will be sent by email to the customers, and the pharmacy has to maintain records of all such transactions

The ministry invoked Section 26B of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, which empowers the government to regulate sale or distribution of any drugs essential during an epidemic or natural calamity. This might be a temporary relaxation, and may be suspended once the COVID-19 pandemic is arrested.

The Tamil Nadu state government has issued its own guidelines to the Ministry’s notification, adding the requirement that delivery staff be provided with personal protective equipment.