Friday, December 8, 2023

Delhi High Court directs Centre to frame policy regarding online sale of medicines within 8 weeks

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The Delhi High Court on Thursday directed the Union of India to frame a policy regarding the online sale of medicines within two months.

The order was passed by the Division Bench of Acting Chief Justice Manmohan and Justice Mini Pushkarna on a batch of petitions seeking ban on illegal sale of drugs online. 

The petitioners also challenged the draft rules published by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to further amend the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules.

Noting that the matter has been pending before the Court for five years, the Bench observed that the Union of India had sufficient time to frame the said policy. 

The Apex Court granted ‘one last opportunity’ to the Centre to frame the policy in eight weeks, warning that if this order was not complied with, the concerned Joint Secretary would have to remain personally present in the Court on the next date of hearing.

The Bench recorded in its order the submissions made by Central Government Standing Counsel Kirtiman Singh, who said that consultation and deliberation were still going on qua the raft notification dated August 28, 2018 related to the online sale of drugs. 

The High Court had passed an order in December 2018, stopping the sale of drugs online since the same was not permitted under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, and the Pharmacy Act, 1948. A similar petition had been filed in the Madras High Court in 2018. 

The contempt petition filed in the Delhi High Court sought action against the e-pharmacies for continuing to sell drugs online. It further sought action against the Union government for not taking any action against defaulting e-pharmacies despite the Court orders.

The e-pharmacies apprised the top court of the country that they did not require a licence for online sale of drugs and prescription medicines because they were only delivering the medications like food was delivered through food delivery apps such as Swiggy.

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