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Fresh notification discourages e-pharmacies during lockdown: IAMAI


While the latest central government’s guidelines have relaxed the movement of grocery items, including milk and hygiene products, the new restrictions are bound to hurt the operations e-pharmacy platforms. 

Along with the grocery items, drugs and medicines also fall under the category of essential items. The unclear guidelines and restrictions have made it difficult for the e-pharmacy startups, including NetMeds, Pharmeasy, 1mg and Medlife to supply the drugs and medicines at the patient’s doorstep.

The latest notification mandates the submission of an e-mail ID registered with the licensing authority for a person licensed to sell if prescriptions are to be received through e-mail.

While in chronic diseases, the prescription will be valid for medicine delivery only if it is presented to the drug retailer within 30 days of its issue. In the case of acute cases, the prescription will be valid only if it is presented to the licensee within seven days of its issue.

Importantly, the drugs can be supplied to the patients located within the same revenue district, where the company holding the license to sell is situated. 

These new restrictions will make doorstep delivery a big challenge for the e-pharmacies during the 21-day lockdown period, stated the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI).

IAMAI wrote its concern to the health industry. The industry body believes that since the drugs and medicines also fall under the category of essential goods, the latest guidelines need modification and clearance.

It also outlined that these e-pharmacy platforms are the intermediaries and cannot be expected to hold a license in Form-20 or Form-21 under the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945.

The ongoing lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic has left nearly one-fourth of the global population in lockdown. The restrictions on the e-pharmacy companies are going to hit the delivery of the medicines adversely.

According to an ET report, IAMAI and other stakeholders urge the concerned ministry to recognize e-pharmacies as marketplaces and exempt them from the burden of additional regulations including geographical restrictions.

Meanwhile, this is not the only challenge these e-pharmacies are facing. Online pharmacies, just like any other business operation, are also facing the challenges with manpower. Delivery boys and other workforce are not willing to get back to work out of their social fear and spread of the pandemic. 

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