High Court issues notice on plea against Online sale of Medicines

The Petitioner claimed that it remains unverified if such medical professionals are qualified to prescribe drugs on their letterhead.

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Justice Court

Last Updated on July 7, 2022 by The Health Master

Expressing concern over the health and well-being of citizens, the Gujarat High Court issued notice on a writ petition against the online sale of medicines and scheduled drugs.

The single bench comprising Justice A.S. Supehia directed the concerned authorities of the Centre and State to file appropriate affidavits dealing with all the contentions made by the petitioner.

The petitioner has submitted that the online sale of medicines and scheduled drugs has serious consequences for public health and is not permissible under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940.

It was submitted that the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) has banned the sale of medicines through e-pharmacies vide circular dated 30.12.2015.

The circular instructed Drugs Controller in all the State and Union Territories to put a strict vigil on the online sale of medicines and take action against those selling medicines online in contravention to the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 and the rules made under it.

The Petitioner stated that the Drug Consultative Committee constituted a sub-committee regarding the online sale of medicines, which submitted a comprehensive report in 2016.

The Report made various recommendations that have not been followed and implemented so far.

The petitioner claimed that the e-pharmacies arrange a call between the customer and their employed medical professionals, and, on the basis of a skeletal discussion, a prescription is generated without the doctors even seeing the diagnostic or other medical reports of the customers.

Prescriptions based on such limited and formal conversations directly impact public health and have no legal sanctity.

The Petitioner claimed that it remains unverified if such medical professionals are qualified to prescribe drugs on their letterhead.

The Petitioner prayed that action needs to be taken by the National Medical Commission against the doctors who provide such prescriptions.

The petitioner also submitted that e-pharmacies do not have licenses required under Section 18 of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, read with Rules 61 and 62 of the Drugs Rules, 1945.

The petitioner argued that e-pharmacies sell certain scheduled drugs without any prescription and that these can be ordered by a child below 18 years of age.

The sale of Schedule H, H1, and X drugs, under the Drugs Rules, 1945 / Indian Medical Act, 1956, can only be allowed on the prescription of the registered medical practitioner and e-pharmacies are selling these scheduled drugs openly and freely, without any compliance of provisions of law and regulations.

The counsel for the Petitioner prayed that such sale be prohibited.

Prima facie, the Court found the allegations made in the writ petition appear to be true and noted that if scheduled drugs are being sold without due compliance with the law, it will adversely impact public health.

The Court issued a notice returnable on July 29.

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