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AIOCD asks Tata Group not to invest in e-pharmacy as it is illegal in India

Yash Ved, Mumbai
Wednesday, November 11, 2020, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

Close on the heels of a similar demand to the Reliance Industries, the All India Organisation of Chemists & Druggists (AIOCD) has urged the Tata Group not to invest in the online pharmacy business as it is an illegal trade in India.

In a letter to Ratan Tata, chairman emeritus, Tata Group, and N Chandrasekaran, chairman, Tata Group, the Organisation stated, "Therefore, the sale of prescription drugs and medicines through online medium is illegal. The legal regime does not permit home delivery of medicines, though recently owing to the situation of COVID-19 pandemic and an emergency-like situation, the government allowed temporary provision for the home delivery of medicines, but it was meant for only neighbourhood pharmacies. It may be noted that allowing dispensation of medicines by home delivery will require extensive modification to the Drug and Cosmetics Act, apart from the rules and the same has been accepted by the Union of India in its affidavit before the High Court of Madras."

The AIOCD’s demand to the Tata Group comes in the wake of market rumour that the Tata Group is thinking of investing in 1MG.COM, which operates in online pharmacy.

“The sale and dispensation of medicines in India are covered under the Drugs & Cosmetics Act 1940 and Rules 1945. The Act regulates the import, manufacture and distribution of drugs; whereas, the rules contain the classification of drugs and guidelines for storage, display, sale and prescription of each schedule," stated AIOCD general secretary Rajiv Singhal.

The organisation stated that the mainstay of the rules under this Act is on prescription and procedure of dispensation. A prescription, in original, is required for every “prescription drug” being sold.

The Rules also specify that the prescription for certain drugs needs to be endorsed while sale. Further, the dispensation has to take place from a licensed premise for which the license has been issued by the competent authority.

The Union of India has admitted on affidavit that allowing the online sale of drugs and prescription medicines requires not only an amendment in Drugs and Cosmetic Rules, but also in the Pharmacy Act, 1948; Pharmacy Practice Regulations, 2015; Indian Medical Act, 1956 and Code of Ethics Regulations, 2002, and Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisement) Act, 1954.

AIOCD president J S Shinde added, “We sincerely request you not to invest in any business which is illegal in nature and hamper this brand value apart from getting into legal troubles, as the trade is banned by the High Court of Delhi also. Tata has always been synonymous with integrity, honesty and principles and it is extremely disheartening to see that Tata is trying to enter a trade which is operating illegally and against the acts, rules and laws in our country."

A report by a sub-committee constituted by the Drug Consultative Committee was brought out on 30th September 2016, which looked into the sale of medicines over the internet in India.

The sub-committee in the report was of the view that the sale of medicines over internet is not possible under the present scenario and a full overhaul of system is needed including establishing a national portal for dispensation by e-prescription.

"It also took into consideration the procedures followed in various countries and none of that is similar to the present system of operation of e-pharmacies in India which dispenses on basis of scanned or snapshot of prescription. It also suggested the only way for dispensation will be by licensed chemists in the premises itself and not home deliver," the AIOCD stated.


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