Highlight the need for regulation and the significance of drugs sold by online pharmacies.

Following the December 2018 order of the Delhi High Court, the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) has asked all states and Union Territories to prohibit the sale of drugs sold by e-pharmacies.


Currently the online pharmacies operate without a drug licence in the absence of rules for the sector. This brings in the risk of –

  • Illegal Sale of medicines 
  • Drug abuse and supply of fake drugs
  • Addictive drugs being sold
  • Lack of verification of the real user
  • Abuse of health data of individuals
  • Adulteration and semi-standard drugs 


Due to the lack of a mechanism to control the sale of medicines, the health and lives of people is at stake. The right to a safe and healthy life is present under Article 21 of the Constitution.

E-pharmacies are of the view that they do not require a license for online sale of drugs and prescription medicines as they are not sellers but mere mediators as they are only delivering them similar to food-delivery apps like Swiggy.

The Ministry of health and family welfare, in September 2018, issued a draft notification to amend the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules and enable registration of the e pharmacies to monitoring of their functioning. 

The highlights of the Draft include – 

Highlights of the Draft:

  • E-pharmacies need to be registered compulsorily with the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO)
  • Habit forming and psychotropic substances like cough syrup and sleeping pills, schedule x drugs are not to be sold online
  • Registration from the State government to sell medicines online
  • E-pharmacy registration holder needs to comply with the provisions of the IT Act, 2000

Both state and central drug authorities will be monitoring e-pharmacy data of sales and transactions. While any violation of rules may lead to cancellation of registration. The E-pharmacy premises from where operations take place will be conducted every two years by a central licencing authority. 

The online sale of medicines is in contravention of the provisions of Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 and the other allied laws, still lacs of drugs are being sold online everyday, which is a threat not only to patients but humanity at large.


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