New Delhi: The Delhi High Court yesterday sought responses of the Centre and the Delhi government on a plea seeking closure of online pharmacy companies that are offering drugs and prescription medicines through websites.
Justice Vibhu Bakhru issued notice to the Central Government, Central Drug Standard Control Organisation, Commissioner of Food and Drugs Administration and Delhi Government.
The Court asked the authorities to file their stand on or before the next date of hearing on Feb. 25, 2019. The plea filed through Advocate Amit Gupta submitted that the sale of drugs and prescription medicines online is illegal and without any mandate of law. “As opposed to the sale of drugs and prescription medicines in ‘brick-and-mortar stores,’ online pharmacy stores are operating freely without any regulatory restrictions,” the petition by South Chemists and Distributors Association contended.
Sale and purchase of drugs is regulated by various Legislative enactments and rules, such as the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945, Pharmacy Act, 1948, Pharmacy Practice Regulations, 2015, Indian Medical Act, 1956, Code of Ethics Regulations, 2002, and Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisement) Act, 1954.
However, “the online pharmacies are not following any of the provisions and are allowed to operate freely,” the petition states. The plea contended that the same was in violation of Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution as it results in denial of a level playing field between the online and offline pharmacies.
“The inaction of the government in not taking any action against the illegal websites through which Scheduled Drugs including antibiotics, narcotic and psychotropic medicines are available freely online, has serious adverse consequences on the public health,” the plea claimed.
It may be recalled here that on Sept. 28, a nation-wide bandh was observed by medical shops opposing the alleged loopholes in the draft regulations on e-pharmacies.