Stock your medicines as 8 lakh chemists across India have decided to to keep their stores closed on October 14. They are protesting against an online sale of medicines which they term as illegal in the context of Drugs and Cosmetics Act and Information Technology Act.
The protest is backed by apex body of chemists and pharmacists – the All India Organisation of Chemists and Druggists (AIOCD).
AIOCD president Jagannath Shinde has said that the online pharmacies have a tendency to sell medicines to fictitious buyers without authorised prescriptions.
Terming online drug sale as dangerous, Tamil Nadu Chemists and Druggists Association Secretary N Anandan, said:
”It is dangerous to sell medicines without any prescriptions. Many online pharmacies are supplying medicines like I-pill, Viagara, MTP kits, anti-depression, sleeping pills, cough syrups without confirming the authenticity of prescription and patients.”
Though the government appointed a committee to examine whether and how online pharmacies can be allowed to supply drugs directly to patients, the protest signals an intensifying stir.
However, online pharmacies are supporting the sale of drugs through the internet. Rajiv Gulati, mentor, mChemist Global, said:
“The government should factor in the convenience to patients. Also, in terms of keeping record, ensuring quality and tracking prescriptions, online pharmacies that are backed by sound promoters are as good as the best of offline outlets.”
He added that online pharmacies are also enabling benefits to patients such as better compliance through additional services such as reminders and ensuring audited health record.
Another promoter of an online pharmacy venture pointed out that a majority of chemists do not appoint pharmacy graduates, a mandatory legal requirement.
“This in turn leads to proliferation of questionable drugs in the market,” he said.
In favour of tighter regulations to curb misuse or indiscriminate sale of prescription drugs, the pharmacist adds that clear operating guidelines and an accreditation process for online pharmacies should be in place to distinguish from those who indulge in illegitimate transactions.