Relief for online pharmacy traders: Madras High Court vacates stay on sale of online drugs
Chennai: A sigh of relief comes for the online pharmacy traders and patients purchasing drugs via online pharmacies after the Madras High Court vacated an interim stay passed by it against online sale of drugs.
The interim stay order was passed by Justice R Mahadevan on a plea moved by Tamil Nadu Chemists & Druggists Association and was to be observed till the central government notified rules regulating the trade.
The court at the same had directed the Central government to come up with draft rules for the online sale of drugs by 31 January.
In the recent hearing a division bench of Justice M Sathyanarayanan and P Rajamanickam has set aside the interim stay paying heed to the needy patients.
"If all of a sudden, it is stopped till the amendments are notified, it would definitely create grave hardship, inconvenience and health issues to the concerned patients or persons, who order medicines through online platform," it said.
Medical Dialogues had earlier reported,the petitioner had filed a writ petition seeking a direction to the respondents to block the link of all such websites who are carrying online sale of Schedule H, H1 & Schedule X medicines in violation of Rule 65 & 97 of the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945, till the licences are granted to sell medicines through online.
According to the association, though online shopping might be convenient to consumers, purchasing medicines from unlicensed online stores can be risky as they may sell fake, expired, contaminated, unapproved drugs or otherwise unsafe products that are dangerous to patients and which might put their health at risk.
"Moreover, laws for pharmacies in India are derived from the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, the Drugs and Cosmetics Rule, 1945 and the Pharmacy Act, 1948. These laws were written prior to the arrival of computers and India does not have any concrete laws defined for the online sale of medicines. Though various amendments had been made to the Acts, no provision had been incorporated to utilize information technology for sale of medicines online," the association told the daily.
“Medicines are not simple items of commerce, they are an essential component of patients’ health and they must be administrated to patients in a timely manner as prescribed by a registered medical practitioner and such drugs are provided under the direct supervision of a qualified pharmacist for the benefit of patients,” it added.
Responding to the petition, the online traders also moved an appeal in the high court. They opposed the association's plea contending that such sale was legal as many of them held valid licences.
They further added that others were just a website or program that collected related items of content and displayed or linked to them, acting as couriers for licensed pharmacies.
The online pharmacies also asserted that the Centre had framed draft rules to govern such online sale and the same would be notified soon.
The bench adjourned the appeals for final hearing on January 24.