Mumbai: Maharashtra government today told the Bombay High Court that it was framing a policy for regulating online sale of medicines. On October 29 last year, the HC had asked the government to take steps to regulate online sale of medicines until a specific law or rules were enacted.

Hearing the government's submission that a policy was being framed, the bench of Justices Naresh Patel and Amjad Sayed today said "this is a good beginning for creating public awareness about procedure to be followed and action to be taken against defaulters." The HC was hearing a public interest litigation. The government had informed the HC earlier that it had set up an experts' committee headed by the Foods and Drugs Administration Commissioner for regulation of online sale.

Action had been taken in nine cases where medicines were sold online without prescription, it had said, adding that there were as many as 81 websites which sell medicines online, of which 44 are India-based. Mayuri Patil, a city-based college teacher, has filed the PIL based on reports that college students buy abortion pills online.

According to advocate Vallari Jathar, her lawyer, the drugs mentioned in schedule H of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, which includes sleeping pills, abortion tablets and anti-pregnancy pills, cannot be bought without a doctor's prescription because their side-effects could be dangerous but they are availabale online.