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Parliamentary Panel wants ‘stringent regulation’ of online pharmacies, makes recommendations

Online pharmacies like PharmEasy face challenges in court, by traders’ bodies, as well as scrutiny by a parliamentary panel over legality and regulations

"Stringent regulation of the e-health and e-pharmacy sector is essential in view of the potential harm it can cause to health of end user in case of misuse," the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Commerce said in its findings published in the Seventy Second Report of the Committee on ‘Promotion and Regulation of E-Commerce in India’ Submitted to the Rajya Sabha secretariat on June 16th, the report looks at the regulatory landscape for e-commerce in the country such as the Open Network for Digital Commerce, Unified Payments Interface, and so on. In a section on e-Pharmacies, noting that the sector was booming in the country, the committee notes that it could lead to issues such as supply of counterfiet or illegal drugs, lack of confidentiality of prescriptions, improper packaging, intake of harmful drugs, etc. due to a lack of regulations around the same. The committee further urged the government to formulate and adopt definite regulations around the same soon. Regulations surrounding online pharmacies has been a complicated area. In 2018, the Delhi High Court and Madras High Court passed orders prohibiting the online sale of medicines without a license. (However, the Madras High Court stayed its order in 2019). Meanwhile, the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, and Rules, 1945, do not have any provision regulating the online sale of drugs or, essentially, online pharmacies at present. In August 2018, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare had released the Draft E-pharmacy Rules 2018 for public consultation. However, in a response to…

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I cover health technology for MediaNama but, really, love all things tech policy. Always willing to chat with a reader! Reach me at anushka@medianama.com

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