FDA orders FIR against Snapdeal.com top brass

The Maharashtra Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) has ordered the filing of a first information report (FIR) against e-commerce major Snapdeal.com's CEO, directors and distributors on charges of selling prescription drugs online, a top official said here on Friday.

FDA Commissioner Harshadeep Kamble said that the action follows raids and investigations against Snapdeal.com over the past two weeks.

"Despite a written assurance from the company, it was found that Snapdeal.com continued to offer, exhibit and sell drugs like I-Pill, Unwanted-72, emergency contraceptives and other drugs through their website. We ordered these drugs online and received them on April 24," Kamble told IANS.

When contacted, a spokesperson for Snapdeal.com in New Delhi claimed it had "already delisted the products and said sellers, and also stopped payment, in addition to providing all information to the FDA team as required".

The company reiterated it invests significantly in educating sellers on engaging in fair and safe sales on the platform and consequences of selling inappropriate products, at times sellers end up listing such products.

"Upon being notified of any such products, we delist the products and take appropriate action against such seller,” the spokesperson added.

However, the FDA, in dummy transactions, ordered some of the banned drugs online and also got delivery last month.

FDA probe revealed that Jasper Infotech Pvt Ltd has agreements with various pharmaceutical deals all over India to supply drugs through Snapdeal.com and also collect payments.

"The drugs involved are containing Sildenafil Citrate tablets which are to be sold by retail only on the prescription of Urologist, Endocrinologist, Venerologist, Dermatologist and Psychiatrist...they are to be taken with caution and self-medication and indiscriminate use may lead to harmful effects,” Kamble said.

Kamble said the company's actions contravened the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, and and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, 1954 Sec. 3 and 4, which stipulate a jail term of three-to-five years and a minimum fine of Rs.100,000.

The FDA has written to the DCGI to issue relevant directions in this regard, and also asked Drugs Controllers of other states to take action against the culprits in their respective regions.

Kamble explained that only a certified medical practitioner can sell the Schedule H drugs and only when prescribed by a doctor.

Since such type of online sale of drugs is not allowed, the FDA has ordered lodging of police complaints against Snapdeal.com CEO Kunal Bahl, other directors of the company and distributors of the drug.

On April 16, the FDA sleuths raided Snapdeal.com's offices in Goregaon, north-west Mumbai, after a specific tip-off was received that prescription drugs like Ascoril cough syrup, Vigora tablets, and other medicines were being sold online.

It later carried out searches at Snapdeal.com's offices and godowns in this connection.

Besides, Kamble said, the FDA is also investigating Flipkart.com and Amazon.com offices to ascertain whether they are also indulging in such activities, and has sought details from them in this regard.

"Through such vigilant actions, the FDA is trying to control the menace of Internet-based sale of drugs which could be harmful to the patients," Kamble said.

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