The Madras High Court on Monday banned the sale of medicines online till the central government notifies the regulations. 


The development comes just three days after the Delhi high court stayed the sale of drugs and prescribed medicines by online pharmacies.


The court set January 31, 2019 as the deadline for the central government to notify the rules.The court passed the order on a plea by the Tamil Nadu Chemists and Druggists Association. 


According to the Association, online purchases may be convenient but there exists the risk of unlicensed online outlets selling fake/expired/unapproved medicines. 

On Monday, Justice Puspha Sathyanarayana directed the Union government to notify rules related to the online sale of drugs and medicines by 31 January and ordered a ban on the online sales till then.


The legal framework for pharmacies in India is derived from the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, the Drugs and Cosmetics Rule, 1945, and the Pharmacy Act, 1948. The petitioner had argued that despite several amendments to the rule over the last 78 years, there has been no provision for permitting online sale of drugs and medicines.


The affidavit said that according to the law, “it is not permitted to ship, mail or provide door delivery of prescribed medicines”.


“Drugs of scheduled and non-scheduled category are available online on different websites and distributed across the country,” it said.


Earlier this year, the government released draft rules allowing a one-time registration for e-pharmacies and fixing procedures for sale. The draft provides for patient data protection. The details of patients cannot be shared with anyone except government authorities.


“Any person who intends to conduct business of e-pharmacy shall apply for the grant of registration to the Central Licensing Authority in Form 18AA through the online portal of the central government,” the draft said.