Madras High Court Directs Swift Action on Online Drug Sales Policy

In a recent ruling, the Madras High Court has urged the Union government to hasten the development and notification of a new policy regulating the online sale of drugs. This directive aligns with an earlier order from the Delhi High Court dated March 4, 2024, emphasizing the urgency of formalizing regulations in this rapidly evolving sector.

The decision came as part of a verdict by a division bench consisting of Justice S M Subramaniam and Justice C Kumarappan, which addressed appeals from Practo Technologies Pvt. Ltd. and seven other entities. These appeals were in response to a December 2018 ruling by a single judge that banned the online trading of drugs and cosmetics due to regulatory concerns.

The bench clarified that until the Union government or the Delhi High Court conclusively resolves the issue, the current practices would remain in effect. However, they stipulated that any online drug sales should be conducted strictly through licensed druggists and chemists to ensure compliance and safety.

The court also outlined measures for enforcement, stating that competent authorities are obligated to take appropriate legal action against any violations of these interim regulations.

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Highlighting the complexity of the issue, the bench noted that the forthcoming policy would likely have significant implications. It acknowledged that the Union government needs to carefully consider various concerns raised by drug companies, stakeholders, and the public to ensure that the final regulations are comprehensive and equitable.

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