Online pharmacies in India are operating in an unregulated and illegal manner. Similarly, the Ayurvedic and Nutraceuticals e-businesses are also not complying with Indian laws and regulations and are operating illegally. All this is happening even after the websites pertaining to online pharmacies, Ayurvedic products, Nutraceutical products, etc were contemplated to be put under regulatory scanner.
For too long the regulatory action was pending and missing. After much debate the regulatory authorities have decided to take illegal online pharmacies seriously. The Maharashtra FDA has already approached DCGI for regulating illegal online pharmacies within the state. The Hyderabad drug authorities are also keen on regulating illegal sale of drugs through online mechanism. In this regard, the online sales of drugs like anti-depressants, anti-hypertensives and sildenafil citrate (used for erectile dysfunction) without prescriptions have been brought to the notice of the drug authorities.
A drug control officer said the issue was that these activities were being carried out clandestinely by a group of pharmacists and also by companies. While in other parts of the country raids have been carried out, there have only been complaints from time to time about the illegal sale of these drugs in the state. Before it reaches alarming levels, the Drugs Controller General of India has been asked to monitor these activities.
Deputy director of the Drugs Control department, Hyderabad, Nagabhusam P. said, “These are addictives. In all our forums we have been explaining that online sales are illegal. Companies or individuals must not indulge in it.” There are some who are taking prescriptions from doctors on smartphones and then ordering the drugs. The number is less now but it can slowly become a huge burden.
Thus, mobile health related laws and regulations in India have added another dimension to these complicated legal norms. If a medical device is also sold by these online pharmacies that intend to serve a health/medical purpose, the mobile health and telemedicine related legal issues would also arise.
The regulatory and legislative measures to check online pharmacies trading in banned drugs in India are also in pipeline. The digital communication channels for drugs and healthcare products in India are also subject to numerous regulatory compliances. All these issues require implementation of techno legal measures on the part of Indian government.
The online sale of prescribed drugs and medicines in India is a very controversial area. Most of the online pharmacy stores in India and Ayurvedic products websites are unable to comply with the requirements of Indian laws. There are many techno legal requirements pertaining to privacy, data protection (PDF), encryption, cyber law due diligence (PDF), Internet intermediary obligations, cloud computing, etc that are required to be complied with by online pharmacy stores and Ayurvedic products websites operating in India.