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HC asks government to regulate online sale of medicines

The Bombay High Court directed the Maharashtra government to take steps to regulate the online sale of medicines, until a specific law or rules are enacted.

A division bench of Justices Naresh Patil and S B Shukare was hearing a PIL against the online sale of medicines.

The government informed the HC that it had set up an experts’ committee under the chairmanship of Foods and Drugs Administration Commissioner for regulation of sale of medicines through online portals.

The committee has invited suggestions till October 30 from the people, NGOs and pharmaceutical organisations, and after perusing them, it would issue recommendations for amendments to Drugs and Cosmetics Act, the government pleader said.

The high court advised the committee to study laws of developed countries such as the US, UK and Norway where online sale of medicines is allowed, and also of Turkey, Thailand and Korea where it is not allowed.

The pleader submitted that two portals selling medicines were being prosecuted and the government was also thinking of blocking them.

The judges said the government should be proactive as the issue pertains to the public health.

Mayuri Patil, a city-based college teacher, has filed the PIL based on reports that college students are buying abortion pills online. One of her students fell sick after consuming abortion pills bought online, according to her.

Vallari Jathar, her lawyer, argued that under the Drugs and Cosmetic Act, schedule H drugs cannot be bought without a doctor’s prescription as their side-effects could be dangerous, but they are being sold online.

The drugs in schedule H include sleeping pills, abortion tablets and anti-pregnancy pills, she said.

The next hearing in the matter has been scheduled for November 26.

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