e-pharmacy has more ills than solutions, say druggists

e-pharmacy has more ills than solutions, say druggists

Traditional pharmacists feel it is difficult to check the misuse of drugs in the online mode.

 Buying medicines online can be very risky as the quality of the drugs may be compromised and there is no system in place to monitor the medicines ordered online through “prescription” and its delivery to consumers, says the All India Organisation of Chemists and Druggists (AIOCD).

The organisation is protesting against the Centre’s move to register online pharmacies and legalise them. The opposition has come to the fore after the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare issued draft notifications on August 28 to register e-pharmacy websites and invited objections to the notifications.

Rajiv Singhal, general secretary, AIOCD, said the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, says only registered pharmacists can deliver medicines as per prescription by a qualified medical practitioner. He said buying drugs online violate the rule.

“While buying medicines online, there is no methodology to check if the prescription is genuine or not and whether the person responsible to ship the medicines is a qualified pharmacist. It is usually a delivery boy who drops the medicines at the doorstep,” he added.

Singhal gave examples of how online drug purchase led to misuse by college students in Maharashtra, where abortion pills were bought without medical advice. In Punjab, forged prescriptions were uploaded to purchase drugs causing sedation, he added.

Further, he said the quality of drugs could also be compromised as the consumer may not be aware enough to check the expiry date.

Singhal said online pharmacies provide discount of medicines upto 20% when regular medical shops struggle to provide 12% discount. “We are just amazed how the online pharmacies are able to provide such huge discount and who are their suppliers selling drugs at such cheap rates?” he said. 

He said online retails also threaten the privacy of customers. Gangadhar V Yavagal, president, Karnataka State Pharmacy Council, said all medicines must be issued by a registered pharmacist. But in online pharmacy, the Council is not very sure whether this happens or not. 

The AIOCD has written to the prime minister about the drawbacks of legalising e-phamacy, where it is difficult to check the misuse of drugs.

Singhal said they were planning an indefinite strike if the government doesn’t change its stand.

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