Trader’s body seeks ban on online medicine sales, Retail News, ET Retail

Lena Weib
New Delhi: Traders’ body CAIT on Thursday asked the government to prohibit online marketplaces from selling drugs in the country, a day after e-retailer Flipkart announced its entry into the medicine vertical. In a statement issued on Thursday, the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) said it has written to commerce minister Piyush Goyal and health minister Mansukh Mandaviya drawing their urgent attention to prohibit e-pharmacies from selling drugs in India so that the provisions of Drugs and Cosmetics Act and Rules (DC Act and Rules) are fully complied with.

CAIT’s national president B C Bhartia and secretary general Praveen Khandelwal said that the DC Act and Rules regulates the import, manufacture, sale and distribution of drugs in the country, and has strict provisions in view of public health and safety.

On April 6, Walmart group firm Flipkart announced its foray into the healthcare segment by launching new app Flipkart Health Plus to leverage its reach and serve more than 20,000 pin code areas across the country.

Flipkart Health Plus platform plans to onboard over 500 independent sellers with a network of registered pharmacists for validation of medical prescriptions and accurate dispensation of medicines.

CAIT said that no person is permitted to import, manufacture, sell or distribute drugs without a valid licence or sell misbranded, adulterated or spurious drugs, or sell drugs without an original prescription.

Bhartia and Khandelwal also urged the government to ban e-pharmacies to prevent them from hiding behind intermediary provisions under Indian laws with an intention to avoid any liability, in case adulterated, spurious or counterfeit drugs reach the consumer.

The trade body called for a ban on marketplace intermediaries to put an end to deep discounting and predatory pricing, which hurts offline retailers.

CAIT also urged the government to impose a minimum penalty of Rs 1 lakh which may extend to Rs 10 lakh so that violators like Pharmeasy, Netmeds, Flipkart, Amazon Pharmacy, Tata1Mg etc. are suitably penalised.

“To prevent intermediaries from getting into creative agreements and operate marketplace e-pharmacy platforms, we have also requested the government to ensure that no person should be allowed to establish a web portal to act as an intermediary between the e-pharmacy entity and consumer,” it said.

The industry body asked the government to ensure that drugs are disbursed only from a registered retail pharmacy and only by a registered pharmacist.

To start with, the platform will have over 500 independent sellers who have a network of registered pharmacists for validation of medical prescriptions and accurate dispensation of medicines.

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