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Online Sale of Drugs

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Online Sale of Drugs

Why in news :

  • In early February, the Ministry of Health pulled up at least twenty companies including Tata-1mg, Flipkart, Apollo, PharmEasy, Amazon and Reliance Netmeds, by issuing them a show cause notice, for selling medicines online.
  • This happened after the All India Organisation of Chemists and Druggists (AIOCD), a powerful lobby of over 12 lakh pharmacists, threatened to launch a country-wide agitation if the government didn’t act.
  • The Minister went so far as to say that e-pharmacies should be closed down.

Is banning e-pharmacies a viable option?

  • The Ministry of Health has adopted a ‘blow hot blow cold’ approach towards online pharmacies.
  • The acute need for door step delivery of drugs was felt during COVID-19.
  • The year of 2020 marked a watershed moment for the growth of e-pharmacies as the Ministry of Home Affairs issued orders for them to continue to operate.
  • It saw nearly 8.8 million households using home delivery services during lockdown.
  • The draft e-pharmacy rules, which were originally intended to whip e-pharmacy businesses into shape were floated by the Ministry of Health in 2018.
  • The rules were finalised, public comments were taken into consideration and they were almost on the brink of being notified.

Implications of the move :

  • The demand for online delivery of drugs is burgeoning.
  • There is a possibility that some of these businesses will go underground if banned, because people are not going to stop ordering medicines online anytime soon.

Syllabus : Prelims + Mains; GS3 – Health

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