This post traces the timeline of events leading to the formulation of e-pharmacy rules passed by the government of India and the current status of online sale of drugs.
E-pharmacies have played a prominent role during the Covid-19 pandemic. A FICCI white paper indicates a 2.5 times growth in the number of households using e-pharmacies during the pandemic.1 Importantly, penetration in non-metro cities is also on the rise. E-pharmacies' growth is expected to continue post-Covid as well, especially given the government's push towards digital health through the National Digital Health Mission (NDHM).2 Online pharmacies have requested the government to notify the final e-pharmacy rules.3 These rules have been in the works for over 2 years- the draft rules were released by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (Health Ministry) in August 2018,4 but are yet to be notified. In the interim, petitions have been filed before a few High Courts challenging the online sale of drugs. Several of these are still pending, awaiting final notification of the rules.
In this post, we present a timeline of events around the regulation of e-pharmacies cases.
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This post has been authored by Ikigai Team.
1. FICCI Report, E-pharmacies at COVID-19 Frontline, (August 2020), http://ficci.in/spdocument/23316/FICCI-ePharmacy-Whitepaper.pdf
2. National Health Portal, National Digital Health Mission, https://www.nhp.gov.in/national-digital-health-mission-(ndhm)_pg
4. Draft e-pharmacy rules, Health Ministry, 28 August 2018, https://cdsco.gov.in/opencms/opencms/system/modules/CDSCO.WEB/elements/download_file_division.jsp?num_id=MTkzOQ==
6 Report of the sub-committee constituted by the Drugs Consultative Committee to examine the issue of regulating the sale of drugs over internet under the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945, 30 September 2016, https://cdsco.gov.in/opencms/resources/UploadCDSCOWeb/2018/UploadCommitteeFiles/CommitteeReport_e-pharmacy_14.pdf
7 FICCI, Self-Regulation Code of Conduct for the e-pharmacy sector in the interest of consumer, 21 November 2016 http://ficci.in/pressrelease/2600/ficci-press-nov21-e-pharmacy.pdf
8 Draft e-pharmacy rules, Health Ministry, 28 August 2018, https://cdsco.gov.in/opencms/opencms/system/modules/CDSCO.WEB/elements/download_file_division.jsp?num_id=MTkzOQ==
9 Madras HC bans online sale of drugs, The Hindu, 01 November 2018, https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/madras-hc-bans-online-sale-of-drugs/article25384004.ece
10 W.P No. 11711 of 2018 titled Dr. Zaheer Ahmed vs. Union of India & Ors., 12 December 2018, Delhi HC, http://delhihighcourt.nic.in/dhcqrydisp_o.asp?pn=299654&yr=2018
11 Single judge bench order in W.P. No. 28716 of 2018 titled The Tamil Nadu Chemists and Druggists Association vs. Union of India & Ors., 17 December 2018, Madras HC, https://indiankanoon.org/doc/7076591/ 1 http://188.8.131.52/chennai-do/index.php/casestatus/viewpdf/cmp_23341_2018_xxx_0_0_02012019_03.pdf
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