The All India Organization of Chemists & Druggists said that e-pharmacies are not recognised under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act.

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Money Pharma Saturday, August 15, 2020 - 20:30

The All India Organization of Chemists & Druggists (AIOCD) has written to the Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos and India Country Manager Amit Agarwal over the e-commerce giant starting Amazon Pharmacy in Bengaluru. Copies of the letter were marked to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Health and Family Welfare Minister Harsh Vardhan, Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal, and other senior government officials.

AIOCD said that they have 8.5 lakh members, and claimed that e-pharmacies are illegal and not recognised by law under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act. AIOCD said that as per the rules, an original prescription is necessary for every ‘prescription drug’ that is sold, and the drug needs to be dispensed from a licensed premise, because of which the online sale of drugs is illegal. 

AIOCD added that the home delivery of medicines is not permitted, but has been permitted due to the pandemic only for neighbourhood pharmacies. 

Stating this space has been marred by controversies, court cases and legal issues in the last few years, AIOCD said that allowing the online sale of medicines would require extensive modification to the Drugs and Cosmetics Act and acts pertaining to pharmacy, medicine, code of ethics, drugs and magic remedies.  

AIOCD also cited a white paper by the Indian Medical Association, which said that the IMA is against online pharmacies in India as it will “encourage substitution of cheaper and spurious drugs by the online stores and the doctor-patient confidentiality will be affected.” It also laid out the proceedings in various courts. 

Reiterating that home delivery of medicines is only allowed by the government for neighbourhood pharmacies, it stated the rules that need to be complied with for the delivery of drugs — a valid licensee, prescription received by hand or individual email, email to be registered with state drug authority, schedule H drugs can only be sold via door delivery and more. 

“The above notification will make it amply clear to you that ‘Home Delivery’ cannot be undertaken by any Online Pharmacy and entities doing so are already facing ‘Contempt of Court’ proceedings under the laws of our country,” AIOCD said. 

Entering this space can have legal implications, it said. 

Amazon said it launched pharmacy services in Bengaluru, taking on players such as NetMeds, PharmEasy, 1mg and Medlife. 

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