States told to be vigilant against online drug sales

The state drugs control departments will strengthen vigilance on online trade of drugs in the wake of a directive issued by the office of the Drugs Controller General that online sale of drugs would continue to be illegal till the central government took a final decision on the issue.

In a letter issued to all state enforcement officials, S Eswara Reddy, joint drugs controller at the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation, has asked state governments to maintain strict vigil over online sale of medicines in the interim period, when the expert committee appointed by the centre to examine the issue of online drug sales is finalising its report, and to take action against those indulging in it.

Wholesale and retail drug traders had gone on a nationwide strike recently to protest against the state and central drug enforcement agencies turning a blind eye to the illegal online sale of drugs in the country, as the current Drugs and Cosmetics Act does not have provisions allowing the same.

They had pointed out that even Schedule H and Schedule X drugs were being currently sold online.

Following a spate of representations received by the government against e-pharmacies, the Drugs Consultative Committee in its 48th meeting in July last year had examined the issue, and constituted a subcommittee under the chairmanship of Maharashtra Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Harshadeep Kamble to look into it.

''The committee is currently in the process of holding discussions with various stakeholders,'' stated the letter written by Dr Reddy.

Officials said while tracking online sale of drugs was difficult, the department was monitoring various online sites through which medicines were currently being sold.