Online pharmacies are flourishing world over including India. The Indian market share of online pharmacies has been increasing thanks to the growing use of Internet in India. However, this has also created legal and medico legal problems as well.
We have no dedicated e-retailing laws and regulations in India. Further, we also do not have any dedicated e-health laws and regulations in India. In fact, e-health in India is facing legal roadblocks and in the absence of regulatory and legislative measures, online pharmacies are growing unregulated. In the present circumstances, the legal enablement of e-health in India is urgently required.
However, even more grave are the concerns originating out of the use of e-trading for medical and non medical drugs in India. E-trading of medical drugs in India must be undertaken only after complying with the laws of India. There are many cyber laws due diligence requirements in India that e-traders of medical drugs in India must comply. Similarly, foreign websites targeting India for this purpose must also comply with Indian law in order to do legitimate business in India.
There are many online pharmacies that are trading in banned drugs in India as well. Realising the potential dangers arising out of the same, the Indian government has recently constituted a high-level committee to suggest regulatory and legislative measures to check online pharmacies trading in banned drugs in India.
The committee has been set up under the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) of India to check such sale of banned drugs in India and to prevent black money and finances criminal activities through online transactions. The committee has been constituted as a part of the new drugs policy recently revealed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee.
However, online pharmacies are by their very nature technology driven. So the approach of Finance Ministry must be techno legal in nature. Fortunately the committee has proposed to establish “cyber patrol units” to intercept syndicates and individuals indulging in such criminal activities over the Internet.
Another good aspect of the proposed legislative initiative is the proposal to route and inspect international mail (containing contraband couriers) while ensuring active cooperation and exchange of information with other enforcement agencies like CBI, DRI and ED, within the country.