The body had written a similar letter to Amazon after its launch of pharmaceutical services.

Mukesh Ambani speaking at an event
Money E-pharmacies Thursday, August 20, 2020 - 19:58

Competition in the e-pharmacy sector has intensified, with large companies now looking to grab a piece of the pie. In just the last week, Amazon launched Amazon Pharmacy, Reliance purchased a majority stake in NetMeds, and Medlife and PharmEasy filed for approval to merge. And while the sector may be looking at increased competition at a time that the need for the delivery of medicines has increased, rules governing the sector are yet to be notified. 

The All India Organization of Chemists & Druggists (AIOCD) has written to Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani, the organisation saying e-pharmacies are illegal under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act.

This comes soon after AIOCD wrote to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and India head Amit Agarwal calling e-pharmacies illegal, and said that they are not recognised under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act.  AIOCD claims to have 8.5 lakh members with a total of 5.8 crore families being impacted by the chemists, pharmaceutical distributors and ancillary services. 

“It is very disheartening to see that a company of Reliance Industries’ stature, has invested in an industry which is still ILLEGAL and not recognized under the Drug & Cosmetics Act under which the import, manufacture, sale and distribution of drugs is regulated,” the letter to Ambani states. 

In the letter, AIOCD said that the online sale of drugs is currently under consideration with the government. 

With regard to Aarogya Setu Mitr, an ancillary application of Aarogya Setu which lists several e-pharmacies and telemedicine services, it said that there is no provision under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act for online pharmacies. 

AIOCD further added that the home delivery of medicines was not allowed under the Act until the pandemic, and that too is only for neighbourhood shops as per the notification. 

“Mukesh Ji, it is pertinent to mention here that this move will not only threaten the livelihood of millions of our citizens, it will create monopoly in a perfect competition market and of course create concentration of wealth while taking it away from our citizens and putting it in Reliance Industries’ pocket,” the letter states. 

They said that they are concerned that this industry will face a similar condition as that of the telecom and retail industries. 

On Tuesday, Reliance announced that it picked up a majority stake in Netmeds for Rs 620 crore.

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