Ban on Online Medicine Sale - Seeker's Thoughts

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Ban on Online Medicine Sale

On 12 December 2018 Delhi high court banned the sale of drugs and prescribed medicine by online pharmacies across the country and directed the centre and the capital’s government to immediately implement the order.
The order has been passed while acting on a PIL filed by Delhi-based dermatologist, Sheer who complained that lakhs of medicine were sold on the internet everyday without much regulation, posing the huge risk to patients and doctors alike.
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In the plea filed, advocate pointed out that online sale of medicines is not permitted under the drugs and cosmetic Act, 1940 and Pharmacy Act, 1948.

What is the reason of banning?
Various researcher and surveys claim that India now is the second largest population of internet users in the world. And with every passing day, the number is only getting bigger. Most of these Indians use the internet to shop products, including clothes, gadgets and also medicines. 
There are around 250 online pharmacies in India and the model works on two levels-
Business to customer and direct retail platform. They offer heavy discounts, door step deliveries and other benefits that consumers have welcomed.
Drugs and cosmetics Act, 1940, drugs and cosmetic Rule, 1945, and the pharmacy Act, 1948, govern the Indian pharmacy Laws. Since they were made before the advent of e-commerce, they don’t cover E-pharmacy.  In the absence of any laws, in Nov 2016 , federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) came up with their own “Self – Regulation Code of Conduct for the E pharmacy Sector,” to ensure patient's safety.  Under the code, there was prohibition of sale of schedule X and other habit forming drugs, and a requirement to partner with the government if any recall of medicines happens. Most online pharmacies require the prescription to be uploaded and as the name suggests, its self-regulation meaning it is not enforceable.
In September 2018, the new draft guidelines to E-pharmacies – were put
together and the final regulation will be in place as early as end of the year,
According to this report. According to the draft guidelines, no person will distribute or sell, stock, exhibit or offer for sale of drugs through online portal unless they are registered. Sale of tranquilizers, psychotropic drugs, narcotic and habit forming drugs will be prohibited through E-pharmacies. E-pharmacies play an important role in distribution of drugs, the rule make registration easier.
E.pharmacies will have to register with the central drug standard control organization (CDSCO), the apex drug comptroller body in India and central licensing authority. They can register through any state for sale cross the country. But state government has the power to cancel registration if they don’t meet the standards of care and patient's safety.
Legal Status of Online Pharmacies
The Union Health Ministry had come out with draft rules on sale of drugs by E-pharmacies in September 2018. The objective of these rules was to regulate the sale of medicines across India. The government did not ban the sale of drugs online because such sale also provides the patients in remote areas access to genuine drugs from authentic portals. The draft rules had mandated that no person will distribute or sell, stock, exhibit or offer for sale of drugs through e-pharmacy portal unless registered.
Voice against E-pharmacies
All India organization of chemists and druggists, with over 800,000 traditional medical shop under it, have raised their voice against E-pharmacies, reports Quartz. They say it will be difficult to control sale of contaminated, un-stable and fake drugs through
These portals. In fact, the Madras High Court had also issued an interim ban on the online sale of drug. Other states including Maharashtra and Karnataka have come down heavily on E-pharmacies previously.
Conclusion 
The online Pharmacies say they are waiting for the order details. There is likely to be damage in the online industry and some discomfort for online purchasers. If the new rules do come in place on January, it will take time for these companies to work the formalities.