Bitter pills

Some tablets will be bitter. And almost all surgeries will be painful. But they are needed for the well-being of a patient. A classic example of this is the Madras High Court’s Monday order, banning online sale of medicines by e-pharmacies till the Centre notifies the final rules bringing them into the ambit of regulation. The court also directed the Union government to notify the proposed Drugs and Cosmetics Amendment Rules, 2018 in the gazette before end-January 2019. The amendment, once formalised and announced, will enable licensing of online drug-selling platforms.

In her order, Justice Pushpa Sathyanarayana said, “As the draft rules are framed by the Central government, after deliberations including the stakeholders, till the aforesaid rules are notified, the online traders are bound not to proceed with their on-line business in drugs and cosmetics.” The judge observed that it becomes necessary for the Central government to notify the rules at the earliest in the interest of the public and online drug trade. Those involved in online trade of drugs have to obtain licences in the manner prescribed in the rules to be notified, within two months from the date of such notification, the judge said.

The Madras High Court’s order comes close on the heels of a similar order of the Delhi High Court a couple of days ago, prohibiting sale of medicines online and asking the competent authorities to enforce the ban. Though online shopping is convenient for consumers, purchasing medicines from unlicensed online stores could be risky as they might sell fake, expired, contaminated and unapproved drugs or unsafe products that are dangerous to patients and that might put their health at risk. Hence, tight regulations are the need of the hour. If society is patient, court is hospital and judge is doctor. The Madras High Court has proved this once again with its Monday order.