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Central drugs regulator asks states, UTs to stop online sale of medicines: Experts discuss

Updated : December 04, 2019 10:05 PM IST

Country's drugs regulator has asked all states and union territories to prohibit the sale of drugs by online pharmacies as per the Delhi High Court order, a senior health ministry official said on Wednesday.

The court while hearing a PIL by Zaheer Ahmed in December 2018 had ordered the ban on the sale of illegal or unlicensed online sale of medicines till the government drafts rules to regulate e-pharmacies.

The order by the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI), issued last week, asked all drug regulators in states and Union Territories to take "necessary action" to enforce the court order.

Currently, online pharmacies are operating in the country without a drug licence as there are no rules framed for the sector. In September, the government, in an affidavit submitted to Delhi High Court, said it is in the process of finalising the draft rules for regulating e-pharmacies after going through representations of all stakeholders.

Ahmed, in his PIL, had said that the online illegal sale of medicines would lead to a drug epidemic, drug abuse and misuse of habit-forming and addictive drugs.

So what happens now and what does this mean for e-pharmacies in India? According to an EY India Report, the addressable market for e-pharmacies in India will reach $18.1 billion by 2023, up from $9.3 billion currently.

The report points that increasing internet penetration through smartphones would act as a growth driver. Besides, the report also says that the increase in chronic diseases, rising per capita income and resultant healthcare spend will also aid to its growth.

In this episode of Young Turks, Shereen Bhan is in discussion with Prashant Tandon, the co-founder and CEO of 1mg Technologies; Pradeep Dadha, the co-founder and CEO of Netmeds and JS Shinde, the president of All India Organisation of Chemists and Druggists.
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