New Delhi: Indian pharmacists fear rise in self-medication and abuse unless online drug sales are checked.
In the run-up to the 69th Indian Pharmaceutical Congress to be held from December 22-24 in Chandigarh, the hosts of the event Indian Pharmaceutical Congress Association (IPCA) and Association of Pharmaceutical Teachers of India (APTI) have asked the government to regulate online pharmacy in the interest of common man.
“A statutory provision needs to be made,” said Dr. Shailendra Saraf, Chairman Organising Committee, IPC 2017, and added, “insisting that e-pharmacies need proper checks and balances fearing the huge potential of exploitation and health risk”.
The Drugs Controller General of India is considering tracking the online sale of medicines to ensure patient safety. In December 2015, the drug regulator- Drugs Controller General of India had issued a circular stating that sale of drugs over the internet is in contravention of the Drugs and Cosmetic Act, a legislation which governs the sale of drugs in India. The Act says that all medicines have to be dispensed under the supervision of a registered pharmacist after declaring e-pharmacies illegal. But there is no legal framework in site yet.
Online pharmacies have been increasingly popular in India because they offer discounts and the convenience of getting a doorstep delivery of medicines. But pharmacy experts are worried about the absence of a pharmacist in dispensing medicines.
Pharmacist as gatekeeper
A pharmacist is responsible for dispensing the right medicines and even counseling a patient about side-effects and dosage. In the online space, where the medicines are delivered at the patient’s home, there is no possibility of an interaction between a patient and a pharmacist.
The Drugs and Cosmetic Act requires that a pharmacy should run under the continuous personal supervision of a registered pharmacist whose name should be displayed conspicuously on the premises.
The pharmacy profession comprising the industrial and practice sectors is undergoing a rapid change. Indian Pharma industry, which has registered a spectacular progress today, ranks 4th in volume and 13th in value in the global pharmaceutical market with exports worth US Dollars 2.6 billion besides domestic sales amounting to over US Dollars 4 million.
Dr. Shailendra Saraf, Vice President, Pharmacy Council of India, says, “The ever-expanding Pharma’s industrial and practice sectors need clinically and technologically trained pharmacy professionals who can face global challenges and compete with the multinationals. The pharmacist is no longer a mere dispenser of drugs but has assumed a more crucial role in medicine management and as overall health care programmer.”
The Indian Pharmaceutical Congress is a national annual event of pharmacist from all walks of pharmacy profession to deliberate various issues relating to industry, regulatory, academia, hospital and community pharmacy and to evolve collective wisdom for formulating newer policies for the country in the relevant fields and for the betterment of mankind.
IPCA organizes the IPC every year with an objective to “advance and promote the cause of Pharmaceuticals Sciences and Profession of pharmacy in all their aspects so as to ensure that Indian Pharmacy Products and profession are the best in the world and to help the public to get the best benefit out of the same.”
The theme of the 69th IPC, “Skill And Will To Make And Serve Quality Pill” envisages how a pharmacist can play a leading role in the country to promote and realize the vision of healthy India as well as stimulate discussions and thought process centered around how the country and the pharmacy profession respond to realize the vision.