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AIOCD discusses e-pharmacy policy with Union commerce ministry raising issues like predatory pricing

Shardul Nautiyal, Mumbai
Thursday, July 18, 2019, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

The All India Organisation of Chemists and Druggists (AIOCD) in a recent meeting with Union commerce ministry discussed the draft e-pharmacy policy and raised issues like predatory pricing and other issues like aggregator's role in online pharmacy not being clearly defined and the existing cash on delivery mechanism in online prescription drugs sale.

The meeting was called by the Union commerce ministry to deliberate on AIOCD memorandum on online pharmacy submitted to the government.

Additional commerce secretary Shailendra Singh, deputy secretary Surabhi Sharma and Nayonika Dutta made a note of all submissions made by AIOCD and assured that it would further be discussed with Union Health Ministry. AIOCD general secretary Rajiv Singhal and AIOCD joint secretary Vaijnath Jagushte among others participated in the meeting.

In the meeting, it was also deliberated that drug company should have control over its inventory and penal action should be made in case of violations. Medicine is not a normal commodity and has to be sold and prescribed under medical supervision. Selling medicines online is in contravention to the Drugs and Cosmetics (D&C) Act, 1940 and Rules 1945.

AIOCD suggested that if government allows online sale of medicines, it has to be under mandatory e-prescriptions. Home delivery should also not be allowed under the D&C Act. The issue of e-consultations was also discussed during the meet and it was communicated that it is illegal, as per the ethical guidelines of Indian Medical Association (IMA) and Medical Council of India (MCI).

AIOCD emphasised that pharma industry is regulated under six special acts and the main challenge is restricted trade margins. It stressed that it cannot part more than what it gets and compete on irrational discounts offers by online players. Besides this, pharma trade has also been denigrated and put in negative list of e commerce besides also emphasising that all online pharmacies are illegally functioning.

The fact that foreign direct investment (FDI) is not allowed under the multi brand retail was also communicated while stressing that advertisements by online pharmacies are against the pharmacy practice regulations (PPR) 2015.

AIOCD also said that the sub-committee report released in 2016 regarding the online sale of drugs was not taken into consideration while drafting the draft rules for online pharmacies.

The ministry was also apprised that despite a ban on the working of online pharmacies, they continue to operate. The ministry took a serious note of the issue and assured for appropriate action, according to AIOCD officials.

 

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