Amidst the long-drawn battle between chemists and online medicine retailers in the country, the recent recommendation by a health ministry sub-committee to set-up a national portal for registration of e-pharmacies is seen as a breath of fresh air by the pharmacies marketplaces.
The idea behind the proposal is to ensure that only registered sellers sell medicines on e-prescriptions, which are in turn, generated by registered medical practitioners.
Managing Director and co-founder of 1 mg – one of India’s leading online pharmacy start-ups – Prashant Tandon said,”The latest move is a great positive for us as it indicates that even the committee has realised that more and more consumers are willing to buy medicine online and It’s imperative for everyone to provide these options to succeed in the long run. It will definitely help things get better in future.” Tandon was chatting exclusively to Indiaretailing Bureau.
The sub-committee, which deliberated over the issue for almost a year, was set up last year by the Drug Controller General of India (DGCI) to release a report of recommendations to regulate e-pharmacies. The recommendations of the committee will now be forwarded to the Union Ministry of Health.
As per a recent report by PTI, the sub-committee, under the chairmanship of Maharashtra Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Harshadeep Kamble, has suggested that medicines should be allowed to be sold online in a phased manner after establishing sufficient checks and balances.
These marketplaces have also been a target of traditional mom-and-pop chemists whose businesses they seem to have disrupted, given the discounts and ease of purchase.The chemist lobby group All India Organisation of Chemists and Druggists (AIOCD) had even approached 10 high courts over the continued operation of e-pharmacies earlier this month.
These traditional stores contend that the online marketplaces don’t comply with prescription norms and there is illegality in their mode of functioning.
Tandon however denies any illegality.
“We are disrupting a pretty large and unorganised industry that has a carton and holds no accountability today. This is making lot of them uncomfortable and they are trying to find reasons to come up with faults in our model. Having said that, I believe our models don’t have any impact on traditional chemists, which demand prescriptions and comply with the law. It only hit domestic and international e-pharmacies that do not ask for prescriptions,” he said.
At present, the online sale of prescriptions drugs (those falling under schedule H, H1, G and X) is illegal. However, for non-prescription drugs, those having the licences can sell them which are without prescription even on online.
On December 30, last year, the DCGI had instructed drug control officers of all states to take action against those indulging in online sale of drugs in the interest of public health.