HC impleads online medicine traders in plea seeking ban on e-pharmacies

Justice R Mahadevan, who has granted an interim stay on sale of medicines online by those not having required licence, impleaded the petitioners, including New Delhi-based 1MG Technologies Private Limited, as party to the petition filed by the Tamil Nadu Chemists and Druggists Association (TNCDA).

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Chennai: The Madras High Court Friday allowed firms involved in online sale of medicines to be impleaded in a petition seeking a ban on their business. Justice R Mahadevan, who has granted an interim stay on sale of medicines online by those not having required licence, impleaded the petitioners, including New Delhi-based 1MG Technologies Private Limited, as party to the petition filed by the Tamil Nadu Chemists and Druggists Association (TNCDA).

He impleaded the petitioners after hearing arguments by senior counsels for them and also the TNCDA and adjourned the matter to November 9 for further hearing.

The Judge had on Wednesday granted an interim order restraining online sale of medicines, but clarified Thursday that his order was applicable only to those firms which do not have valid licences.

TNCDA has sought a ban on online sale of medicines contending that purchasing drugs from unlicensed online stores can be risky as they may sell fake, expired, contaminated or unapproved drugs that are dangerous to the health of patients.

A battery of senior lawyers appearing for the impleading petitioners submitted their clients were only intermediaries, providing a platform between the customer and the pharmacies, and not involved in online sale of medicines and drugs of any sort.

E-pharmacy was an initiative to help the caregivers select the most appropriate health care services at the best possible price, the counsels said.

The e-pharmacists have entered into facilitation agreements with various third party pharmacies across the country and they neither stocked medicines nor were having any shop. The orders were placed on the basis of prescription issued by the doctors, they said.

Hence the online firms were not obligated to procure a license under the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules 1955, they reasoned.

Arguing on behalf of the TNCDA, senior counsel A R L Sundaresan submitted that even for exhibition and offer of sale itself the online companies needed licence.

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