Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Madras HC stays ban on online sale of medicines

The Madras high court stayed on 2/1/19 an order prohibiting online sale of medicines till the central government notifies rules regulating such trade.

“Online sale... if all of a sudden is stopped till the rules are notified, it would create grave hardship, inconvenience and health issues for patients/persons, who order medicines through online platforms,” a division bench of Justices M Sathyanarayanan and P Rajamanickam said.
Making it clear that the reasons/observations made were only for the purpose of disposal of these miscellaneous petitions, and that this court had not dealt with the merits of the main case and was open to the respective parties to canvass the same at the time of final disposal of the writ appeals, the bench posted the appeals to January 24 for final hearing. On December 17, 

disposing of a plea moved by the Tamil Nadu Chemists & Druggists Association, a single judge of the court had directed the Centre to notify the rules governing the trade on or before January 31 and had stayed all such trade through the online mode till such notification was issued.
Aggrieved, online pharma traders moved an appeal in the high court. They contended that most of them were licence holders under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act and others were just aggregators acting as couriers for licensed pharmacies.

They informed the court that the Centre had framed draft rules to govern such online sale and the same would be notified soon. However, the association contended that online medicine sales were carried out through more than 3,500 websites across the country and the same was in violation of the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules as it is was being done without valid permission or a licence.

Unless the draft rules — the Drugs and Cosmetics (Amendment) Rules, 2018 — are approved and notified, such trade cannot be allowed to take place, and since the administration of the drugs also concerns the health and lives of patients, such trade activity can be undertaken only in accordance with law, the association added.

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