Delhi High Court orders Central government to frame policy on online sale of medicines within 8 weeks

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The Delhi High Court on Thursday directed the Central government to frame a policy regarding the online sale of medicines within eight weeks.

A Division Bench of Acting Chief Justice Manmohan and Justice Mini Pushkarna said that a last chance was being granted to the Central government to come up with a policy, considering that the matter has been pending before the Court for five years.

The Court added that if this order is not complied with, the concerned Joint Secretary will have to remain personally present in the Court on the next date of hearing.

“Mr Kirtiman Singh [Central Government Standing Counsel] states that consultation and deliberation are still going on qua the raft notification dated August 28, 2018, which relates to the online sale of drugs. This Court is of the view that as more than five years have lapsed, the Union of India has had sufficient time to frame the said policy. However, one last opportunity is granted to frame the policy in eight weeks. In the event the policy with respect to online sale of drugs is not framed, the concerned Joint Secretary dealing with the subject shall be personally present in the court on the next date of hearing,” the Court’s order said.

The Court passed the order while dealing with a batch of petitions seeking a ban on the illegal sale of drugs online. The petitions have also challenged the draft rules published by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to further amend the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules.

In December 2018, the High Court had passed an order stopping the sale of drugs online since the same was not permitted under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, and the Pharmacy Act, 1948. A similar issue had cropped up before the Madras High Court as well in 2018.

The Delhi High Court is also seized by a contempt petition seeking action against the e-pharmacies for continuing to sell drugs online. Action has also been sought against the Central government for not taking any action against defaulting e-pharmacies despite the Court’s orders.

The e-pharmacies have told the Court that they do not require a licence for the online sale of drugs and prescription medicines because they are only delivering the medications like food is delivered through food delivery apps such as Swiggy.

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