4th May 2015

1. Is it illegal to sell prescription drugs online?

Internet has silently crept into our lives to an extent that not just household items, but drugs and other wellness products can be purchased online easily.

Although the online environment makes purchase of products very easy for a customer, it exposes the online portals as well as consumers to great risks which often go unnoticed but could lead to disastrous consequences.

Conventional pharmacy stores in the real world have robust distribution systems and are required to undergo stringent compliances and hence observe good distribution practices.

Home delivery by the online stores, on the other hand, is certainly convenient; but is beset with problems. For instance shipment though mail or parcel could break the cold-chain and possibly cause deterioration of the product and pose risk to its safety and efficacy.

Some of the popular drugs sold online include those for curing sexual dysfunction like Viagra, for falling hair, weight loss, pregnancy prevention, depression and sleeping disorders, as well as performance-enhancing drugs used by bodybuilders and athletes, including banned substances.

As of date, there is no specific law to regulate online pharmacies in India; however they are indirectly governed through laws such as Drugs and Cosmetics Act (DCM) and Food Safety and Standards Act. As per the DCM, certain drugs can be sold only on prescription and there are specific rules governing the same.

It is only a matter of time when all these pharmacies would be brought under the ambit of an amended law. Online pharmacies should adhere to the rules prescribed by these laws and with appropriate precautions, it should not be difficult to develop a regulated system for online sale of prescription drugs.

Note : The article is not intended as advice and is only meant for information. For advise please contact : chitra@ralegal.co.in

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