Covid-19: Government paves way for doorstep delivery of drugs

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on March 26, 2020

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In light of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak in India, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has paved way for drugs to be available on the doorsteps of the sick, through a notification issued on March 26.

“Retail sale of drugs to the doorstep of consumers is essential to meet the requirements of emergency arising due to pandemic Covid-19,” the Health Ministry states.

As on March 26, India recorded 694 confirmed cases of COVID19 of which 45 have recovered and 16 have died. Maharashtra has the largest number of confirmed cases at 124, of which one has recovered and three have died.

Kerala follows close on Maharashtra’s heels with 118 cases of which have six recovered and no deaths have been recorded.

In Gujarat, 43 persons have been infected, three have died and there have been no recoveries.

Apart from Maharashtra and Gujarat, some states have recorded a death each, while others have no deaths at present.

While previously there was resistance to online selling of drugs that domestic e-commerce players had expressed disappointment about, in the latest move, the Health Ministry under Section 26B of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act has instructed any person holding a valid retail license to accept prescriptions physically or through e-mail.

But this comes with a rider. The Health Ministry has instructed that drugs will be supplied at the doorstep of the patients located within the same revenue districts where the licensee is located.

In case of chronic illness, drugs will be dispensed for only one month for old prescriptions and for acute illnesses the prescription should not be older than a week.

In the Ministry’s press briefing on Thursday, Joint Secretary Lav Agarwal said that even as there was a slight relief in spiking of cases on March 25 as compared to the previous day, “we can still not take it lightly”.

“The rate at which cases are increasing is a relatively stable trend, but that still does not establish a clear trend and we have to adhere to containment clauses in the long term,” he said.

Published on March 26, 2020

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