Govt proposes curbs on online pharmacies



The government is against the sale of medicines online unless e-tailers have a physical presence in the areas they serve.

The government laid out a series of proposals on Thursday ahead of public consultations on regulating online pharmacies.

“No sale by e-pharmacy shall be permitted to be carried out by any person or entity unless it has a licensed brick and mortar facility in each of the licensing authority’s jurisdiction,” the health ministry’s proposal says.

Online sale of prescription medicines is illegal, a government-appointed technical panel had said last November, even as the trend is catching on in the cities.

Created in 2015 after the Maharashtra drug regulatory authority raided a major online retailer and seized prescription-only brands, the panel had reviewed laws governing the business, and the road ahead.

Drug regulators say online sale is possible, but only after the existing laws and rules are changed. The present legal structure doesn’t allow online pharmacies, they contend.
For better monitoring and regulation, the ministry proposes an e-portal for manufacturers, distributors and stockists.

They have to sign up on it before they can sell medicines.All manufacturers have to enter data on stocks sent to distributors, with batch numbers, quantity supplied and expiry dates. Stockists and retailers will also have to follow a similar procedure. Data can be fed by mobile phone or over the computer once in 15 days, according to the proposal.

The portal will be managed by the Central Drug Standards Control Organisation.
The e-platform will be used to generate bills. For medicines listed in Schedule H, H-I or X, details of the doctors are required, the proposal says.

Data generated from the monitoring could be used in the national pharmacovigilance programme to reduce the growing menace of antibiotic resistance, officials said.

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