The plea made alleges that these online pharmacies were operating without any regulatory restrictions.
As the customers are increasingly live and interactive in the digital world, pharmaceutical companies are dipping their toes into the digital waters. Digital technology is playing an ever-increasing role in this era of profound transformations, characterized by increasingly informed patients/physicians, a new range of customers etc.
Recently, the Delhi High court sought response of the centre on a plea, made by South Chemists and Distributors Association, seeking direction to close down “illegal” online pharmacies.
Violating Rules & Regulations
Some Online Pharmacies have been known to sell drugs and prescribed medicines. The plea made alleges that these online pharmacies were operating without any regulatory restrictions. This violates the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, the Pharmacy Act and the relevant rules and regulations.
In comparison to offline pharmacies known as brick and mortar shops, these online pharmacies are not governed by any rules. The plea also sought direction for taking action against the online pharmacies for selling prescription medicines.
Affecting Public Health
Due to the inaction of authorities in the regulation of these websites also poses a serious threat to public health. These online pharmacies have made scheduled drugs, including antibiotics, narcotic and psychotropic medicines, easily available over the internet. Many drugs have addiction forming tendencies, and their easy availability and unchecked usage cause serious damage to the consumer’s health. This not only violates the right to equality, life and personal liberty but also has serious adverse consequences on public health.
The government should ensure that the citizen’s right to health doesn’t get compromised by this indiscriminate availability of prescribed medicines.
Equality in Rules & Regulations
The advent of online pharmacy is gaining popularity among consumers due to cost effectiveness and high-speed delivery to the doorstep of patients. The pharmacy store operated by the members of the South Chemists and Distributors Association is not allowed to advertise or promote their business by providing discounts. While the discounts and low-cost of medicines is one of the major factors behind the success of online pharmacies, which is in violation with the right to equality before the law.
The plea also appealed to ensure that there is a level playing field between the online and the offline pharmacies and that the same set of rules and regulations are applicable to all of them.