India is likely to issue the final regulations for companies engaged in sale of medicines through online platforms by end of this month and put them into affect by January next year, Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) S Eswara Reddy said.
“The biggest hurdle for the growth of online pharmacy is that we do not have any regulations. By end of this month, the government is going to finalise the regulations,” he said at the Global Venture Capital Summit here on Friday.
The regulator has already examined the comments of stakeholders on draft regulations, which was released in September.
As per the proposed norms on “sale of drugs by e-pharmacy”, no person will distribute or sell, stock, exhibit or offer for sale of drugs through online pharmacies portal unless registered. They mandate all e-pharmacies to register with the DCGI but give powers to the state governments to cancel registrations.
“The aim is to regulate the online sale of medicines across the country and provide patients access to genuine drugs from authentic online portals at affordable rates…there is no regulation for people engaged in this business at present,” Reddy added.
However, habit forming drugs would not be sold through this platform. Besides promoting the growth of the sector as investors would understand the predictability and transparency of rules, it would also help them understand risk and benefits of investing in the sector, he explained.
Reddy said the market size of online sale of medicines is about Rs 3,500 crore and expected to increase to Rs 25,000 crore in the next 3-4 years.