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A regulation the government is considering cracking down on online pharmacies amid concerns about data privacy and malpractice


On Monday, official sources said that the Federal Ministry of Health is studying strict regulations and measures against electronic pharmacies, including banning them altogether, after concerns about data privacy, malpractices in the sector, and the irrational sale of medicines.

The revised draft of the new Medicines, Medical Devices and Cosmetics Bill 2023, which has been sent for inter-ministerial consultation, states that “the central government may regulate, restrict or prohibit the sale or distribution of any drug by means of the Internet, by notice.” The new Medicines, Medical Devices, and Cosmetics Bill of 2023 seeks to replace the Medicines and Cosmetics Act of 1940.

A bill that was put into the public domain in July last year for stakeholder feedback contains a requirement for permission to operate an e-pharmacy.

The old draft law stated the following: “No person or by any other person on his behalf may sell, store, offer, offer for sale or distribute any drug through the Internet (electronic pharmacy) except under the license or permission issued in such manner as may be specified.” “. This provision has been deleted and replaced in the amended bill.

According to official sources, regulating the work of these electronic pharmacies, the unrestricted and irrational use of prescribed medicines and maintaining the privacy of patient data are the main areas of focus. One of the sources explained that these online pharmacies collect data by region related to drug consumption, which increases the risks involved in patient safety.

A group of ministers said earlier that they are in favor of banning online pharmacies.

The Medicines Controller of General India (DCGI) in February issued show-cause notices to 20 e-pharmacies, including Tata 1mg, Amazon, Flipkart, NetMeds, MediBuddy, Practo and Apollo, over the online sale of medicines in alleged violation of norms. The notice stated that DCGI had sent the order to all states and union territories in May and November 2019 and again on February 3, 2023, for necessary action and compliance.

“Nevertheless, you have been shown to engage in such activities without a license,” the notice to online drug sellers read.

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Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.