Health ministry examines technical feasibility to launch a transparent online pharmacy platform

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In order to arrive at a policy for regulating online pharmacy in the country in an effective way, the Union health ministry is currently examining technical feasibility and modalities involved in it. This is in line with the government’s much awaited plan to launch a centralised portal which will make use of information technology to make medicines available in a transparent manner across the country. The move follows Drug Consultative Committee’s (DCC) acceptance of recommendations by a select group of state drug regulators on online pharmacy.

“Government is examining technical aspects related to creating an online platform to be able to facilitate online sale of medicines in a transparent and regulated manner. The sole intention is to make best use of information technology for such kind of online systems,” says Drug Controller General of India Dr G N Singh.

The online portal system which is currently being developed by Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) in consultation with Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP), Law Ministry and Commerce Ministry will involve manufacturers and supply chain managers.

DCC had last year deliberated on aspects related to information technology which can be aligned with the drug regulations existing currently to suit patient needs among other major points.

Based on the recommendations and agreement with all the concerned stakeholders, the union health ministry is currently on the final phase to frame a policy on the use of information technology in online pharmacy.

Guidelines on the same were also submitted last year by the sub-committee set up by the 48th DCC under the chairmanship of former Maharashtra FDA Commissioner Dr Harshdeep Kamble.

The sub-committee had taken representations and views from the concerned stakeholders for a comprehensive online policy and subsequent release of a set of guidelines on the use of information technology in online pharmacy and authorise its legal validity.

Online pharmacy is currently governed by Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000 and Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 but recommendations from all stakeholder had 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.

DCC met on November 6, 2016 and accepted the much awaited recommendations of a select group of state drug regulators on online pharmacy under the chairmanship of former Maharashtra Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Dr Harshadeep Kamble.

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