AIOCD writes to Amazon chief on online pharmacy entry; says not under D&C Act

Our Bureau Mumbai | Updated on August 14, 2020

Even as Amazon India announced its entry into the online medicine space with Amazon Pharmacy, the All India Organisation of Chemists and Druggists (AIOCD) has written to its top management saying that e-pharmacies are not recognised under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act.

In a letter to Amazon’s global Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos and the India-head Amit Agarwal, the AIOCD said, “This space (e-pharmacies) has been marred by extreme controversies, court cases and legal issues in the last few years. Through this letter we want to highlight few legal points.”

“The sale and dispensation of medicines in India is covered under the Drugs & Cosmetics Act 1940 and Rules 1945. The above said act regulates the import, manufacture and distribution of drugs whereas the rules contain classification of drugs and guidelines for storage, display, sale and prescription of each schedule,” the letter said.

Further, it adds, “The mainstay of the rules under this Act is on prescription and procedure of dispensation. A prescription, in original, is required for every “prescription drug” being sold. The Rules also specify that the prescription for certain drugs needs to be endorsed while sale. Further, the dispensation has to take place from a licensed premise for which the license has been issued by the Competent Authority.”

This being the case, it points out, the “sale of prescription drugs and medicines through online medium is illegal. The legal regime does not permit home delivery of medicines, though recently owing to situation of Covid-19 pandemic and emergency like situation, the Government allowed the home delivery of medicines but it was meant for only neighbourhood pharmacies. It may be noted that allowing dispensation of medicines by home delivery will require extensive modification to the Drug and Cosmetics Act also apart from the Rules and the same has been accepted by the Union of India in its affidavit before the High Court of Madras.”

With over 8.50 lakh members, the AIOCD in its letter further outlines various concerns that it has raised in its ongoing battle with online pharmacies in the country.

Published on August 14, 2020

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