When the Delhi High Court decided to act on the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by a Delhi-based dermatologist Zaheer Ahmed, it concluded by declaring a nation-wide ban on e-pharmacies and online sale of medicines.
The decision-making bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice VK Rao passed the decision on Wednesday and immediately alerted Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) to implement the ban.
In his PIL, Ahmed had complained that lakhs of medicines were being sold through online pharmacies without following proper regulations and guidelines. This, according to him, puts not only both patients and doctors at risk but also the humanity at large.
The reason behind this, he states is the fact that drugs can be addictive, habit-forming, and have a psychotropic substance that can be easily used for drug abuse and criminal activities. The most endangered demographics by this practice are that of people from uneducated rural backgrounds who wouldn’t understand if there is some misbranding or substandard drug being sold.
He further went on to point out the government was lacking in its responsibility to protect the public interest when it wasn’t able to supervise and properly implement the directions by Drug Controller General of India in 2015. Online sale of medicines is also not allowed under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 and Pharmacy Act, 1948.
Three months ago, the Union Health Ministry had drafted strict rules to regulate the sale of drugs. Apart from enlisting registry specs, it clearly stated that e-pharmacies cannot sell psychotropic medicines, tranquilizers, narcotics, and habit-forming drugs.
Continuation of such practices anyhow has brought this mandate into action.
The startups that are slated to bear the effects of the ban are Netmeds, 1mg, PharmEasy, Practo, MedLife, among others. While the companies have not stopped accepting orders as of now, it could be due to their plans to approach the Supreme Court against the ruling.