Six online pharmacy players — 1MG Technologies, Digital Health Platforms, Netmeds Market Place, 91 Streets Media Technologies, Medline International and Practo Technologies — have appealed before the Madras High Court that the interim stay on the sale of medicines online should apply to unauthorised companies only, reports the Business Standard.
The appeal was filed in response to an interim injunction passed by the court last week which ordered a stop to the online sale of medicines. The injunction came after the Tamil Nadu Chemists’ and Druggists Association (TNCDA) sought a stay on the online sale of medicines, asserting that no company had the license to do so.
- In response to the stay, NetMeds CEO Pradeep Dhadha told MediaNama that “as a fully licensed pharmacy, Netmeds.com is committed to adhering to all the guidelines and rules under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act.”
- A spokesperson for 1mg told MediaNama said that the online pharmacy has “informed our business model to the court and that all the vendors on its platform are licensed pharmacies.”
The next hearing in the case is scheduled for November 9.
Why did the Madras HC pass the injunction?
The Madras HC passed an interim injunction banning the online sale of medicines until 9 November. The order states that “taking note of the seriousness of the issue and public cause, this court grants interim injunction against the online sale of medicines without license and directs the first respondent (Government of India) or the competent authority to stall such online sales forthwith.”
The order was passed in response a plea moved by the Chennai-based TNCDA, which claims to be a representative body of 30,000 retailers and distributors in the state. It is also associated with All India Organization of Chemists and Druggists (AIOCD).
The association, in its plea, reasoned that the Drugs and Cosmetics Act — which governs the sale and purchase of medicines in the country — was formulated in 1945, before the existence of computers and businesses like online pharmacies. It asserted that India does not have any concrete laws governing sale of medicines online. It additionally appealed that online sale of medicines is risky as medicines can be fake or harmful, or contaminated and expired.
The draft policy for online pharmacies
In September, the Union government released a draft policy regulating the operations of online pharmacies as amendments to the Drugs and Cosmetics Act. The draft policy mandated registration of the online pharmacies with a central licensing authority, and codified the requirements from such businesses. Some of the compliance requirements include that the portals furnish expansive details about themselves and their controlling entities, details of the directors, partners, owners of the e-pharmacy, official logo, return policy, details of the logistics provider, etc. It is unclear whether this policy has been notified and come into effect yet.
Pushback against online pharmacies