The Delhi High Court has recently directed the Central government and Delhi government to restrain e-pharmacies from selling medicines online.
The order was passed by a bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice VK Rao while responding to a petition filed by Delhi-based dermatologist Zaheer Ahmed. Mr Ahmed has submitted that the easy availability of drugs online, without any checks on e-pharmacies, is risking the lives of people and affects their right to a safe and healthy life – under article 21 of the constitution of India. Retail pharmacies are supplied by trusted pharmaceutical wholesalers, which provides security that the e-pharmacies do not have.
The plea was filled by Advocate Nakul Mohta and Misha Rohatgi Mohta, pointed out that sale of online medicines is not permitted under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1948. It could lead to drug abuse and misutlisation of habit forming and addictive drugs.
The petition also highlighted that Children can be victims of wrong medication, as there is no mechanism on the internet to check the age of the consumer. Unregulated and unlicensed sale of medicines can increase the risk of spurious, misbranded and substandard drugs being sold.
Online pharmacies can increase self-medication, leading to dangers associated with it, including drug-resistant infections or drug epidemic.
Yet, there are several merits of online pharmacies and door-delivery makes life easier for senior citizens and others who may not be mobile, say Pune customers. The perils of easy availability however, cannot be ignored.
While speaking to Anil Parikh, Pharmacist, he said, The risk of misusing the medicine is involved in both online and offline. Rather, it should be made compulsory to carry the prescription from the doctor even for a normal headache as overuse of painkillers are harmful too.
Agreeing to the fact that not all medicines are sold with a prescription, we often give painkillers and other medicines just when the customer tells us the name. It won’t make a difference if one medical stops it as there are a thousand others who give it to the consumer.
Parikh adds, “In my opinion the sale of online medicine should not be banned but the concerns of the PIL should certainly be addressed.
Speaking to Pune365, Zubair, chemist says, “The decision is fair from our point of view, if everything is available easily online, then what is the point of educated people opening their stores?
Many websites are selling fat burning pills, weight gaining pills, viagra and more which has harmful effects on the body if not used correctly.
Harshal Rai, Software Professional says, As per my knowledge, the medicines are only delivered to you if you upload the prescription online.
Also, in case of doubt, the medicines are verified with their doctors before shipping the medicines to the customer.
Often, at medical stores, the chemist doesn’t ask for the prescription, you named the medicine and you’ll get, So what is really safer- online or offline?
Moreover, online medicines are more feasible because they’re delivered to your doorstep, it becomes convenient for people staying alone, senior citizens and almost for everyone.
Instead of banning, they can improvise it by making calls to the customer, rechecking with their doctor and delivering it only to the person who ordered them, Rai added.
I have been getting medicines online regularly and they don’t sell medicines without the prescription, it only happens when it is a repeat order, says Farzhana Ansari, housewife.
Many a time, the doctor insists you to buy the medication from a particular store, or the medicines written by him will only be available in this store. That is because the pharmacist and the doctors have a tie up and that can also be harmful to a patient.
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