The centre has suspended Aarogya Setu Mitr, an ancillary service of the government-backed contract tracing app Aarogya Setu, which offered e-pharmacy and telemedicine services.
The decision was communicated to the Delhi High Court by additional solicitor general Maninder Acharya in response to a writ petition filed by Delhi-based South Chemists and Distributors Association. The association said in the petition that the portal acts as a tool to promote online pharmacies through the Aarogya Setu app.
“The learned additional solicitor general, on instructions, submits that the operation of the website “http://www.aarogyasetumitr.in” has been suspended. She further submits that if at all the website is to be relaunched, the respondents shall keep in mind the issues raised by the petitioners in the present petition,” a bench led by Justice Navin Chawla ruled.
The Aarogya Setu Mitr website currently shows a ‘404 Not Found’ error.
According to The Print, which first reported the development, the petitioner argued that by linking the portal with the Aarogya Setu app, the website served as “a marketing tool for e-pharmacies only and excluded marketing, distribution and sales by the offline chemists”. They demanded that the government take necessary action to list licensed local chemists as well on the website.
On May 4, Aarogya Setu Mitr was launched as a standalone website that could also be accessed from the Aarogya Setu app. The government said the portal was created to facilitate easy availability of Covid-19 medicines to patients, and provide free telemedicine and consultation services for coronavirus-related enquiries.
Developed by NITI Aayog and the office of principal scientific advisor in a public-private partnership, the portal listed select epharmacy startups, Covid-19 teleconsultations firms and companies providing home sample collection for lab tests. It also listed online medicine delivery firms such as PharmEasy, 1mg, MedLife and NetMeds on the platform.