Madras High Court bans online sale of medicines until Centre issues new regulations

Chennai: The Madras High Court today banned the online sale of medicines in the state until the Central Government comes with a new set of rules and regulations on the sale.

The bench headed by Justice Puspha Sathyanarayana issued the orders while allowing a plea moved by the Tamil Nadu Chemists & Druggists Association.

The association in their plea stated purchasing medicines from unlicensed online stores could be risky and dangerous as they might sell fake, expired or unapproved drugs.

“Moreover, laws for pharmacies in India are derived from the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, the Drugs and Cosmetics Rule, 1945 and the Pharmacy Act, 1948. These laws were written prior to arrival of computers and India does not have any concrete laws defined for online sale of medicines. Though various amendments had been made to the Acts, no provision had been incorporated to utilise information technology for sale of medicines online,” senior counsel for the petitioner A R L Sundresan said.

“Medicines are not simple items of commerce, they are an essential component of patients’ health and they must be administrated to patients in a timely manner as prescribed by a registered medical practitioner and such drugs are provided under the direct supervision of a qualified pharmacist for the benefit of patients,” he added.

Opposing the association’s plea, the online pharma companies argued that most of the sellers were licence holders under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act and others were just aggregators who act as couriers for licensed pharmacies.