As online portals encroach upon brick and mortar businesses, Pharmacy sector is next to complain about illegal online sales of drugs by such companies.
With chemists planning a one-day shutdown of their shops later this month to register their protest, the national government has also been working on framing strict guidelines governing the sale of medicines online by startups such as 1mg.com, Bookmeds, mChemist, Medidart, Medlife, Medstar, Netmeds, Pharmeasy and Zigy.com, according to Economic Times.
Reportedly, NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant wrote to health secretary CK Mishra in October seeking comments on parameters like quality, cost and access to ensure a level playing field for e-pharmacies vis-à-vis traditional retailers.
Though the government sees e-pharmacies as critical in last mile delivery of affordable medicines to all, even in remote areas, offline retailers believe otherwise.
The All India Organisation of Chemists & Druggists has announced a nationwide strike on November 23 "to protect the health of the general public as well as the interest of our 8 lakh chemists and 80 lakh workers and their families," the grouping’s president JS Shinde was cited as saying by PTI last week.
Contrary to the proposed e-pharmacy policy that seeks to establish strict regulations such as those pertaining to the upload of prescriptions, NITI Aayog is of the opinion that such a policy could be unfair to e-pharmacies and would make the model unfeasible.
To ensure a level playing field, the planning body is also in discussions with key stakeholders to frame a robust policy that will facilitate online access to quality medicines in a cost-effective and timely manner.