New Delhi: In a major setback to online pharmacies, the Delhi High Court has passed an order banning the sale of medicines across the country through e pharmacies.
The court acting on a PIL filed by a dermatologist, Zaheer Ahmed who in his complaint mentioned about the unregulated sale of various drugs online which poses threat to public health.
With this move, the Delhi High Court becomes the second Court in the country to have announced a ban in order to act on the issues pertaining to online pharmacies. Earlier, Madras High Court had passed a similar order.
In recent times, the issues related to e pharmacies had been gaining heed. Various states have been looking into the matter. The Madras High Court recently granted an interim order to restrain the sale of online drugs by firms which do not have a valid licence. However, the state government later informed the court that it did not have the power to block websites selling medicines in the absence of any act or regulation prohibiting such sales.
As of now, the Madras High Court has reserved its verdict in case of banning the online sale of medicines.
Meanwhile, before the Delhi High Court, in his plea, dermatologist Dr Ahmad accused of government’s failure in fulfilling its constitutional obligation under article 21 which states protecting public health as one of its responsibilities.
The petitioner accentuated that although the Drugs Controller General of India had directed the state drug controller to restrict the sale of such drugs yet a large number of drugs are still being sold online, even without prescription.
The PIL read, “Unlike common items, drugs are highly potent and its misuse or abuse can have serious consequences on human health, not just for the person consuming it but for humanity at large as some drugs can be addictive, habit-forming and harmful to the body. A large number of children/minor or people from uneducated rural background use the internet and can be victims of wrong medication while ordering medicines online,” quotes TOI.
The PIL further blamed the government for not doing enough to curb the sale of drugs through e pharmacies without a licence and the increased risk with the sale of spurious, misbranded and substandard drugs. “Some drugs have psychotropic substances and can be easily ordered on the internet and misused for criminal activities or drug abuse,” it added.
The petition stated that the centre is aware of the risk involved with the sale of medicines on the internet particularly, prescription, habit-forming and addictive medicines. Hence, it had set up a panel for the same cautioned as late as September.
The Union Health Ministry had come out with draft rules on “sale of drugs by e-pharmacy” which states that no person will distribute or sell, stock, exhibit or offer for sale of drugs through e-pharmacy portal unless registered. The objective is to regulate the online sale of drugs and provide the patients with genuine drugs from an authentic online portal.
Acting on the PIL , The bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V K Rao passed the order and directed the Center and AAP government to immediately implement the order.