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AIOCD demands blanket ban on online sale of medicine

Laxmi Yadav, Mumbai
Saturday, August 20, 2016, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

All India Organisation of Chemists and Druggists (AIOCD), having pan India presence of more than 8 lakh members, has reiterated its demand for a total ban on online sales of medicines as it considers such an activity can lead to major public health problems.

In a letter to Union minister for health and family welfare J P Nadda, prime minister, minister of state for health and family welfare, principal secretary, health, joint secretary, health and family welfare, all members of parliament, AIOCD has cautioned them that online sale of medicine if allowed, would prove hazardous to the public health at large as unscrupulous elements could route spurious drugs to customers via online platform.

There is no system to check authenticity of prescriptions submitted online. This could lead to misuse and irrational use of Schedule X drugs like Diazepam,-a tranquillizing muscle-relaxant drug used chiefly to relieve anxiety; Zolpidem, a sedative primarily used for the treatment of insomnia, Alprazolam, a medication used to treat anxiety disorders, panic disorders, and anxiety, Lorazepam, a drug of the benzodiazepine group, used especially to treat anxiety, Clonazepam, a medication used to prevent and treat seizures, panic disorder, and for the movement disorder known as akathisia, Oxycodone, an opioid pain medication, Schedule H drug like Stanozolol, a steroid used by sports persons for stamina, said Shinde.

The Schedule X drugs comprises of narcotic and psychotropic drugs which causes delusion, hallucination, psychosis, sedation and hypnosis. These drugs should be sold only on prescription of a registered medical practitioner. Chances of drug abuse and addiction are higher with the Schedule X category. Tempered prescriptions for Schedule X, H drugs can be placed on e-pharmacy platform by drug addicts to get these drugs. Online pharmacy would also provide drug peddlers easy access to consumers. The drug peddlers are smart enough to use vernacular code words to skip regulators and platform operators as they were found to sell protected animals and their body parts on online platform using vernacular code words, he opined.

Besides this, the e-pharmacy would also promote irrational use of i-pills, MPT kits which could lead to rise in drug abuse. As per a media survey of 3,800 females in 2014-15, 372 girls aged below 15 years and 380 girls aged below 18 years bought emergency contraceptive pills through e-pharmacy.

Medicines being a potent chemical substance cannot be equated to any general commodity. Before it reaches consumers, two qualified professionals-- doctor and pharmacist require to be physically monitored. E-pharmacy could sever the doctor-patient-pharmacist connection thereby cutting information and clarification over dosage, side effects and such other elements.

Information technology is in a nascent stage in India. Due to lack of integrated foolproof communication system, monitoring of self medication, untempered prescription, repeated filling of prescriptions is not possible in the country as compared to developed countries where attempt of refilling of prescriptions is detected and pop up by system when a patient tries to buy it anywhere in the country, said AIOCD president.

Popularity of online sale of drugs lies in discounts offered by online platforms. In country like India where drug prices are controlled by the government providing 16 per cent margin on schedule categories and 20 per cent margin on other category, heavy discount offered by online pharmacies is seen as a strategy to kill the competition in short run to create monopoly in long run. This could have adverse impact on availability of drugs in both rural and urban areas in long run, he added.

Even medical practitioners cautioned the use of online advice and buying drugs online results in severe reaction and in many cases it proved dangerous.

Earlier Bombay High Court, in a case of PIL 170/2015 Mithun Patil against Union government and others, ordered state drug regulators to take action against those violators involved in online sale of medicine.

Some members of the Harshdeep Kamble committee, set up by DCGI to look into ill-effects of online sale of drugs, are openly indicating the positive recommendations of the committee reports. AIOCD strongly raised objection to it and questioned the unbiased report of the committee.

AIOCD had observed nation-wide chemists’ bandh on October 14 last year opposing online pharmacy. It will take a final call on two-day nationwide bandh, if the government fails to meet its demand, concluded Shinde.


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Bhagavan p s Aug 20, 2016 8:59 PM
Dear chemists, "Online drugs sale ban" become easy and apt if offline sale is made professional community pharmacy.
.Dispensing should not happen until the approved reg ph reads and dispenses or supervises the dispensing.
The illegal habit of running trade like any whatever shop has given good support to online sale of drugs.
Vivek Hattangadi Aug 20, 2016 10:43 AM
AIOCD should be told to first reduce the profit margins of their retail and wholesale trading.

20% for retailers + 10% for wholesalers and 1-5% for C&F Agents is ridiculous.

In neighboring Bangladesh, retailers operate on margins of just 2-3%
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