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Government may soon ban pharmacy apps like Tata 1mg, NetMeds, Medibuddy and more: here is why

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Apps like Tata 1mg and Netmeds can soon face a ban over the online sale of drugs for alleged violation of norms. The Union Health Ministry in India is considering regulations and strict actions against e-pharmacies, which are online platforms that sell medicines, due to concerns over data privacy, malpractices, and baseless sale of drugs. Sources close to the matter have said that the government is considering a complete ban on e-pharmacies.

As per a PTI report, the revised draft of the New Drugs, Medical Devices and Cosmetics Bill, 2023, which is currently undergoing inter-ministerial consultation, proposes that the central government may regulate, restrict or prohibit the sale or distribution of any drug by online mode. “The central government may regulate, restrict or prohibit the sale or distribution of any drug by online mode, by notification.” the bill read.The bill seeks to replace the existing Drugs and Cosmetics Act of 1940.The revised draft bill removes the provision in the old draft bill, which required permission to operate an e-pharmacy.

The old draft noted,”No person shall himself or by any other person on his behalf sell, or stock or exhibit or offer for sale, or distribute, any drug by online mode (e-pharmacy) except under and in accordance with a license or permission issued in such manner as may be prescribed.”

The government now wants to focus on regulating the functioning of online pharmacies. The government seeks to have more control over the unrestrained and irrational use of prescription drugs and maintain the privacy of patient data.The pharmacy apps collect area-wise data related to the consumption of medicines, which increases the risks involved with patient safety. A group of ministers had earlier expressed their support for banning online pharmacies.

The proposed regulations are a response to growing concerns about the safety and efficacy of drugs sold through online pharmacies, especially in the absence of proper regulatory mechanisms. The government’s move to regulate or ban e-pharmacies is also a response to concerns about the privacy and security of patient data.

Some of the popular pharmacy apps, including Tata 1mg, Amazon, Flipkart, NetMeds, MediBuddy, Practo, and Apollo got show cause notices from the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) in February over the online sale of drugs in alleged violation of norms. The notice revealed that the DCGI had sent the order to all state and Union Territories in May and November 2019 and again on February 3, 2023 asking them to comply with the government norms. 


courtesy: INDIA TODAY