A new law could legalise e-pharmacies in the country as provisions related to the use of information technology in distributing, manufacturing and sale of medicines are being considered in a draft bill, News18.com has learnt.
The Modi government formed panel to frame laws for medicines, cosmetics and medical devices is all set to submit the draft document by 3o November.
At present, the industry is governed by the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 that regulates the import, manufacture, distribution and sale of drugs and cosmetics.
In September, News18.com had reported that the government had formed an eight-member panel, headed by the drug controller general of India, VG Somani, to revise the country’s drug laws.
Earlier, there were no provisions on the use of technology in sale, manufacturing and distribution of drugs as the laws were formed much before the advent and use of such services, in 1940.
“The draft document will contain a section on IT-related provisions. We are in the final leg of finalising the document and will submit it by the end of this month within the stipulated deadline,” a government official privy to the matter said.
One of the biggest advantages of inserting IT provision in the new laws is that it could further be used to legalise online sales of medicines in India.
Considering that online sales of medicines, also known as e-pharmacies, are currently not regulated, their existence is constantly met with opposition from brick and mortar chemists.
Due to the lack of clear laws, e-pharmacies operate as marketplaces and cater to patients as a platform for ordering medicines from sellers that adhere to the Drugs and Cosmetics Act and Rules.
“While the draft document does not talk about the online sales, in particular, the rules can be formed using the IT provisions from the document for e-pharmacies.”
The panel has conducted several stakeholder meetings before starting the process to write the first draft.
The panel has also taken suggestions from the narcotics bureau followed by meetings with drug regulators across India. Consumer groups, chemist associations, drug manufacturing companies and contract research organisations (CROs) were also consulted.