CDSCO plans to launch centralised portal towards regulating online pharmacy

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As a part of framing a policy on the use of information technology in online pharmacy, Central Drug Standards Control Organization (CDSCO) is planning to launch a centralised online system which will help make use of new technologies to deliver medicines effectively in a regulated and feasible manner.  

Online pharmacy is currently governed by Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000 and Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 but recommendations from all stakeholder have been sought on the broad contours of a policy that will also ensure a level playing field for online pharmacies vis-a-vis traditional retailers.

This comes close on the heels of Drug Consultative Committee meet on November 6, 2016 headed by the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) accepting the much awaited recommendations recently submitted by a select group of state drug regulators on online pharmacy under the chairmanship of Maharashtra Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Dr Harshadeep Kamble.

This according to DCGI Dr G N Singh will involve building capacities wherein new technology can become useful and feasible with out disturbing the existing systems followed by a clear-cut policy on regulating online pharmacies.

Says Dr G N Singh, DCGI, “CDSCO will work with private players to develop a centralised online system and involve manufacturers and supply chain managers to develop a fool-proof system. The process will also involve consultation with Department of Pharmaceuticals under the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers, Law Ministry and Commerce Ministry.”    

These are some of the highlights of the drug consultative committee under the Union health ministry meeting on November 4 and November 6 which deliberated on aspects related to information technology which can be aligned with the drug regulations existing currently to suit patient needs among other major pain points.

Guidelines on the same had been submitted recently by the Sub-Committee set up by the 48th Drug Consultative Committee under the chairmanship of Maharashtra Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr Harshdeep Kamble.

The study has taken representations and views from the concerned stakeholders for a comprehensive online policy which will mark a positive step towards formulating a policy and subsequent release of a set of guidelines on the use of information technology in online pharmacy and authorise its legal validity.

In most countries, the legitimate online pharmacies are given specific operating licenses that are shared with consumers to fight the menace of cross border internet pharmacies.

Meanwhile, Maharashtra FDA has maintained that online pharmacies can sell only OTC drugs and not prescription drugs until the policy on online pharmacy is framed. The DCGI had also earlier directed all the state drugs controllers to keep a strict watch on online sale of drugs and take action if there is violation of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act and Rules there under.

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