Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya will soon hold a meeting with the representatives of e-pharmacies that are on government radar over several concerns, including data privacy and irrational use of prescription drugs, official sources said on Wednesday.
They said the unrestrained and irrational use of prescription drugs by these e-pharmacies and maintaining the privacy of a patient's data are major areas of concern for them. These pharmacies collect the data on consumption of drugs area-wise, which increases the risks for patient safety, the sources explained.
The Union Health Ministry is already mulling regulations and stringent actions on e-pharmacies.
The revised draft of the New Drugs, Medical Devices and Cosmetics Bill, 2023, which has been sent for inter-ministerial consultation, mentions, "The central government may, regulate, restrict or prohibit the sale or distribution of any drug by online mode, by notification." The draft bill was put in the public domain in July last year for feedback and it contained a provision of taking permission to operate an e-pharmacy.
The new legislation seeks to replace the existing Drugs and Cosmetics Act of 1940.
The old bill read, "No person shall himself or by any other person on his behalf sell, or stock or exhibit or offer for sale, or distribute, any drug by online mode (e-pharmacy) except under and in accordance with a licence or permission issued in such manner as may be prescribed." This provision has been removed and replaced in the revised draft bill.
In February, the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) issued show-cause notices to 20 e-pharmacies including top names like Tata 1mg, Amazon, Flipkart, NetMeds, MediBuddy, Practo and Apollo over the online sale of drugs allegedly in violation of norms.
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