Industry body Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) has expressed concerns over a new government order passed by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) on regulating doorstep delivery of medicines.
The health ministry, in the order dated March 26, laid down specifications to regulate sale and distribution of medicines to doorstep amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
The regulations state that doorstep supply of drugs will have to be restricted to the same revenue district where the medicine delivery platform (licensee) is located and that in case of chronic diseases, the prescription should be presented to the retailer within 30 days of being issued.
The industry lobby group, in its letter to the health ministry, has pointed out that the order makes it difficult for online medicine delivery services to act as intermediaries and not license-holding entities in Form-20 or Form-21 under Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945.
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IAMAI also said that “..the provision under notification barring the supply of drugs outside the revenue district where the licensee is located defeats the premise of ecommerce and the concept of one nation, one market.”
In its letter, the body made multiple suggestions, including excusing online marketplaces from licensing norms for doorstep delivery of medicines, lifting the geographical restriction on the sale of drugs for better efficiencies in the supply chain among others.
Currently, e-pharmacies are not regulated by the government and the draft guidelines for the regulation of e-pharmacies have been in works since 2018. The sector, which counts well-funded players like 1MG, Pharmeasy, NetMeds and Medlife, has been operating in a regulatory grey zone
Madras and Delhi High Courts banned the operations of e-pharmacies, only to reverse it later.
The government, in its communication related to the 21-day lockdown, had encouraged doorstep delivery of essential goods, including food and medicine to maintain social distancing.