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The state government Wednesday informed the Bombay High Court that it had initiated action against nine websites for selling drugs online. These are among 86 sites identified as being involved in sale of Schedule ‘H’ drugs that otherwise require prescriptions. The government said it has started cancelling licenses of suppliers.
The court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking a ban on sale of Schedule ‘H’ drugs online without prescriptions or cash memos.
The government said that their own officers had tried to place orders online and had then contacted the cyber crime cell of the police to block sites found selling such drugs without prescription. Government pleader P P Kakade said many of the websites were registered abroad. “Out of 86 websites identified by us, 44 operate in India and we have taken action against nine. In such cases, when we tried to contact the websites, there was no confirmation or response. The suppliers to such websites have also been served showcause notices and their licenses were cancelled,” said Kakade.
The HC, while saying that the government had made a good beginning, asked them to strengthen action. “You should also create awareness amongst customers that buying medicines without prescription is not permissible,” said the court.
Kakade told the court that a meeting of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner and other officials had been held and a committee formed at the central level to look into whether online sales of medicines are to be allowed at all.
“The office of the Drug Controller General of India has communicated on the present subject to all states. A sub-committee headed by commissioner FDA, Maharashtra, has been formed to keep strict vigil and take strict action against violation of rules. The state authority should take up a public awareness programme and ensure strict vigilance of online sale of medicines,” said the bench.
Justices N H Patil and A A Sayed were hearing a PIL filed by a Mumbai college lecturer Mayuri Patil, through her lawyer Vallari Jathar. The whole process of supplying drugs by websites is in violation of the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules,1945, says the PIL.