An Indian government committee is looking to stem the spread of illegal sales of prescription medicines online.
The prevalence of such illegal online pharmacies is pushing India’s Drugs Consultative Committee (DCC) to consider amending the country’s prescription drug law – known as the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945 – to stop the spread of websites willing to sell medicines without a prescription in India and abroad.
According to a summary of the committee’s meeting from July, the commissioner of the FDA of the Indian state of Maharashtra took a “series of actions” against websites, including Snapdeal, Amazon and Flipkart, as well as distributors from Maharashtra who were involved in such illegal sales.
According to media reports, Maharashtra FDA Commissioner Harshdeep Kamble said he found more than 45 drugs illegally listed on Snapdeal, while the website Shopclues.com was also sent a notice for not complying with India’s Drug and Cosmetics Rules, 1945.
“We had put 18 other websites under the scanner after irregularities surfaced. After sending them notices, they stopped the sale of drugs on their websites,” said Kamble.
FDA as a Model
In addition, the DCC noted that the Central Drugs Standards Control Organization (CDSCO) may take a page out of the US FDA’s book for regulating online pharmacies, which allows domestic online pharmacies that are compliant with US FDA and state-specific regulations.
The DCC also made the following recommendations: “The members appreciated the initiative taken by the FDA, Maharashtra in stopping clandestine export of medicines through the internet pharmacy. The issue has become international and is being investigated by the international regulatory and law enforcement agencies as well as Interpol.”
State drug controllers are being asked to remain vigilant to ensure online drug sales are monitored closely, though the report says that importing small amounts of personal drugs compliant with the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945 should be permitted.
In addition, the DCC has put together a subcommittee to examine the issue of online drug sales in relation to other countries’ regulations.