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Net remedy axed

Four months after officials seize 45 objectionable drugs from Snapdeal's godowns, panel will review sale of online medicines

Your doctor is sure to have warned you against self-diagnose by Googling symptoms online. Now, the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA), does not want you to self-medicate by ordering medicines online that are otherwise sold on prescription by licenced pharmacists.

These include medicines that come under Schedule X category, including anti-pregnancy kits, anti-depression and sleeping pills and some cough syrups.

In a bid to crack down on their illicit online sale, the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) held a meeting on Friday and appointed a panel comprising three FDA commissioners and four CDSCO officials to review the sale of online medicines through e-pharmacy channels and retail chains for the next four months.

A report will be sent to the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) and central government with necessary recommendations. The panel will also study how international committees keep a tab on similar mediums and implement methods to curb malpractices.

According to Dr Harshdeep Kamble, state FDA commissioner, “We decided to take the step after online companies were caught selling unauthorised drugs. The process will take around four months. We will submit the findings, along with recommendations, to the central government authorities.”

Sites in the net
The move comes after FDA officers managed to successfully order medicines that cannot be sold without prescriptions on Snapdeal, an e-commerce site, in the month of May. The FDA then raided the company’s godowns across Mumbai, and seized 45 drugs that fell under the objectionable title.

The action was taken by FDA according to Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, 1954, as well as Section 18 (c) 18 A of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940.

India's pharmacy market

The estimated value of India’s medicine market, growing at 10-15 per cent every year, is Rs 90 crore. To add to that, if the e-pharmacy sector is regularised, it will create a virtual market that is currently estimated at 5 per cent of the existing market value, and is growing in double digits every year.

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