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Stringent law needed to streamline e-pharmacies: Bejon Kumar Misra

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Subcommittee set up to establish guidelines for online sale of medicines to meet on July 8

A survey from 4600 consumers pan India on ‘Perception of E-Pharmacies ‘ revealed that 90 per cent are inclined towards online purchase of medicines. Undertaken by Consumer Online Foundation and Bureau of Research on Industry and Economic Fundamentals (BRIEF), the survey titled ‘Perception of Online-pharmacies in India’ was released by Bejon Kumar Misra, Founder, Patient Safety and Access Initiative of India Foundation in New Delhi recently.

The survey claims that nearly 60 per cent consumers preferred to purchase medicines online. Particularly, the consumers in the age groups 65 to 70 years (92 per cent) and 35 to 44 years (91 per cent) have shown the highest intent to use e-pharmacy and preferred to have medicines delivered at their doorstep. Convenience, proper systems facilitating easy validation of prescriptions and choice of affordable options are the driving force behind this mindshift.

Misra said, “The government has set up a sub-committee to establish guidelines for online sale of medicines, scheduled to meet tomorrow (July 8), for which the consumer survey finding can be helpful. The survey highlights the need for strict enforcement of all the existing laws and immediate legislation in place of the existing Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 as well as bring changes in certain sections of all the other relevant laws to keep pace with changing timings and take stringent action against such criminals who are undermining the health and safety of the citizens.”

Stressing that there is an urgent need to legislate stringent laws to protect the health and safety of patients in India, Misra added that IT, as a strong enabler for patients and online pharmacy, can be practised uniformly via training and tracking mechanism. It is a mechanism which will enable consumers to check safety and authenticity of a drug via Internet.

Under the system, the primary, secondary and tertiary packs of medicines will carry a unique bar code, which will be allotted to each manufacturer. Consumers, buying medicines from retail pharmacy store, can use the bar code on the pack on Internet to check information about the source of manufacturing of the product, whether it is an approved drug, its date of expiry as well as price fixed by the government.

Effective policy solutions, improving national regulations related to Internet sales and distribution of medical products and establishing a common logo for all law abiding online pharmacies, establishing more stringent penalties would boost online pharmacy,” Misra added.

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