Reviewing the ban on online sale of medications in Tamil Nadu, the Madras High Court on Monday stated that the ban would remain in effect until January 31. It has asked the Centre to issue a proper set of rules pertaining to the online sale of pharmaceuticals, before this date.
Justice Pushpa Sathyanarayana stated that pharmacies in the state would be allowed to sell medications online only after procuring licences under the new rules, which are currently being drafted.
A writ petition had earlier been filed by the Tamil Nadu Chemists and Druggists Association (TNCDA), represented by the organisationās secretary, KK Selvan. Senior counsel ARL Sundaresan had argued on behalf of the TNCDA and stated that several drugs listed under schedule H, H1, and X were becoming easily accessible, even without a prescription.
Medications which fall under the H, H1, or X categories are not meant to be sold without a prescription however, as the petitioner argued that several of the drugs falling under this category are not being monitored regularly when bought online. For this reason, it is argued that a blanket ban on online sale of medications is required.
How did it all start?
The Centre had come up with a new draft called āDrugs and Cosmetics (Amendment) Rules of 2018ā, which would allow medications to be sold and procured through e-pharmacies.
Following this, on September 28, pharmacists around the country started protesting against a new rule that was to be introduced by the Union Health Ministry, which would allow e-pharmacies and online sale of medications. This was met with backlash from several pharmacists who stated that allowing people to buy medications online was potentially harmful. On the other hand, several other medical professionals felt that the initiative would be beneficial to people, who would otherwise feel hesitant to purchase certain drugs and pharmaceuticals in person.
Many pharmacists, including N Anandan, Administrative Secretary, Tamil Nadu Chemists and Druggists Association (TNCDA), stated that allowing for prescription drugs to be available online would lead to their abuse or misuse.
Other professionals maintained that they were in favour of online sale of medications for this same reason. āThere is so much moral policing that people are often hesitant to buy birth control pills or other drugs at pharmacies,ā one doctor had told TNM.