Allegations have been leveled by The Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) that some “vested groups of distributors and retailers” are spreading misinformation that mutes competition and contributes to high drug prices in India, and requested the government to finalize the draft e-pharmacy rules and notify them with immediate effect.
In the absence of rules, “various groups with vested interests are approaching the courts and jeopardizing 30,000 livelihoods directly or indirectly employed in this sector” said IAMAI, representing e-pharma start-ups. However, IAMAI did not mentioned any of the group but it said these putting the health in risk of six million consumers in 15,000 pin codes who were supplied during the COVID-19 lockdown.
IAMAI said, “The delay in notification of the draft e-pharmacy rules gives an opportunity to vested groups of distributors and retailers to spread misinformation in a manner that mutes competition and contributes to high drug prices in India,”
IAMAI also added that it is crucial to enable competition in the pharma supply chain. IAMAI said, “the e-pharmacy model operates in full compliance and harmony with existing laws. Explaining the mechanism of operations, A digital platform receives the request for medicines from a patient along with the prescription and conveys it to a brick-and-mortar licensed pharmacy store that dispenses the medicine, fully governed under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act (D&C Act).”
According to the statement, “E-Pharmacy Draft Rules provide sector-specific e-commerce regulations with the aim to harmonise existing laws/guidelines like the (information technology) IT Act, D&C Act and rules, and other relevant regulations. These draft rules came after over 25 multi-stakeholder consultations over a period of four years and have also been approved by the Drug Technical Advisory Board, the highest expert body for pharmaceutical regulation in India,”
IAMAI further stated that the delays are “purely unjustified, and unfortunate, and seem to go in the opposite direction from the articulated vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a Digital India where innovation thrives. Notifying the rules will unleash the potential of technology to improve the access and affordability of quality medicines for the country,” it said. The retail pharmacy sector needs a lot of supply chain, technology, and access solutions to make healthcare delivery more efficient and affordable, and a pre-requisite for this is a simple and clear regulatory pathway for innovation to thrive in this important space.”