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Soon You May be Able to Buy Medicines Online, Govt to Consider Revising Drugs Act

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Prescription Drugs Snapdeal

Many ecommerce companies were lately under scanner of the regulatory board for selling medicines online. Now suddenly diverging from that, the government is looking forth to ‘modifying the Drugs and Cosmetics Act’, so that the ecommerce companies will be allowed to sell medicines online. The move followed representations made by organised retail chains such as Apollo Pharmacy, Medplus and Hetero.

Buying or selling drugs online has always been a controversial issue in India and abroad. Whether the drugs are being used or misused is difficult to judge. In May this year Maharashtra FDA raided Snapdeal for selling drugs online without prescriptions.

“The committee is yet to firm up its recommendations but drug controllers of many states have submitted their proposals to the government. Majority members of the sub-committee are in favour of considering the pleas of trade bodies, pharmacy chains and e-tailers to allow online sale of medicines with adequate safeguards taking into account the global practices.” said a member of the DCGI panel.

The government’s moves are sometimes strange. Earlier this year we spoke of the Telangana government having banned sites selling sexual wellness products, however, Flipkart’s sexual wellness section is still up and running (though some products have been removed).

If the act is amended and the online market sells drugs, there are a few things you need to keep a check on, the government will ofcourse lay a blanket of safety measures, but for self awareness,

Check the website you’re buying medicines from as it could be unsafe if:

  • It sends you drugs with unknown quality or origin.
  • It gives you the wrong drug for your illness.
  • It doesn’t provide a way to contact the website by phone.
  • It offers prices that are dramatically lower than the competition.
  • It may offer to sell prescription drugs without a prescription this is against the law!
  • It may not protect your personal information.

Also, each time you’re buying medicines online, keep a check on the following:

  • Check the physical appearance of the medicine (color, texture, shape, and packaging)
  • Check to see if it smells and tastes the same when you use it (incase you’ve used similar medicines before)
  • Alert your pharmacist or whoever is providing treatment to anything that is different.

The domestic medicine market is growing at around 10-15% a year and is estimated at around Rs. 90,000 crore. Akun Sabharwal, director of Telangana’s Drugs Control Administration, said he has recommended to the government that the Drugs and Cosmetics Act be amended to enable the online sale of medicines. “Online pharmacy, once legal sanction is given, can be operated by anyone who will meet the standards desired by the revised Drug and Cosmetics Act,” he told the ET. Sabharwal, a doctor turned administrator who has studied the US model of dispensing medicines online, said, “There should be an equal opportunity for all people to be part of the process if they follow the statute.”

The modifications in the act will be great news for e-tailers, besides the pharmacists who will be going online, as they will just have more doors open for revenue to flow in!

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