Nagpur: The online or e-pharmacy stores, including a reputed few, have been found making mockery of recent ban on online sale of drugs as ordered by Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI). The online pharmacies have audaciously ripped the ban order apart and threw it to dustbins as several of them have been found still dealing with drugs orders placed by interested people.
The major players in the online pharmacy business are PharmaEasy, Merapharmacy, Medicare, Medsnoprescriptiononline, 3G Chemist, Netmeds, Online Doctor, Toppills, Medplussmart, Pharmlex, Topgenericmeds, CanDrugStore, Planetdrugsdirect, Pharmstore and Doctorsolve.
A Nagpur Today team checked the veracity of the ban order and its effects. By law, the ban on online sale of drugs has come into effect from December 30, 2015. But the ban is being mocked at with impunity. To find the truth, a consumer placed order for a certain medicine with “netmeds.com” and to the surprise of the team, the online pharmacy within moments confirmed the order and formally issued a cash receipt having other details. Interestingly, no need was felt for a prescription nor the e-pharmacy asked for. The deal took place although drugs can’t be sold except with a doctor’s prescription. The Drugs Controller General of India while banning the online sale of drugs had said that it will ban companies selling medicines online if they are found to be violating the rules. The DCGI had also directed all State Governments and Union Territories to take action against e-pharmacies if they are found to be in breach of regulations. The Food and Drugs Administration (FDI) was also directed to keep a close watch on such transactions.
The Nagpur Today team, in order to verify the facts, contacted the local FDA’s Assistant Commissioner (Drugs) M G Kekatpure for his version. Kekatpure said that in Nagpur Division usually the online sale of drugs does not take place. But still, we are keeping a close watch in accordance with the ban order. If any such deal comes to light the FDA will act but only after a written complaint. Monitoring of online sale of medicines is being done by FDA Headquarters in Mumbai, informed Kekatpure.
Subsequently, the team rang up the Joint Commissioner O S Sadhwani at Headquarters. Sadhwani said that the department is monitoring as per the directives from DCGI. “But without cooperation from people the work could not be taken to its logical end. The department is facing staff crunch. If we receive a complaint, we will act not only against the concerned company but also against the consumer. The responsibility of implementing the ban on online sale of drugs lies with FDA, asserted the Joint Commissioner.
The conclusion the Nagpur Today team drew from its survey is that the open sale of drugs online across the state clearly points out that the ban order is being mocked at by the e-pharmacies with impunity. The FDA itself has been found handicapped to follow the ban order.
A circular dated December 30 has instructed drug control administrations of all states to “take action against those indulging in online sale of drugs in the interest of public health” pending the submission of the expert committee report.
DCGI places temporary ban on sale of medicine online:
The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) has issued a directive banning the sale of medicine online and has asked all state governments and union territories to take action against the e-pharmacies. The report added that the ban is temporary and the DCGI is awaiting recommendations from an expert committee headed by Dr Harshadeep Kamble, Commissioner of the Maharashtra FDA.
—By Divyesh Dwivedi