The Joint Action Forum of Pharmaceutical Organisations expressed concern to take note on the development of sale of medicines through online mode as well as enhancement of medicine prices in recent periods.
The Joint Action Forum of Pharmaceutical Organisations (JAFPO) comprising the Chemists & Druggists Association of Assam, Centre of Medical & sales Representative union, North East Region, Association of Advanced Pharmacy Practitioners & Assam Pharmaceutical Association.
JAPFO Said that, "Online sale of Medicine is absolutely in violation of the Drugs & Cosmetic Act,1940 and Rule,1945. Considering this point of view and its effect to the society in general ,the Delhi HIGH Court in its ruling of DECEMBER, 2018 clearly asked the respective Government to stop the online sale of Medicines."
JAPFO further took note of white paper published by Indian Medical Association (IMA) which stated that it is a clear cut violation of laws of the land and against medical ethics and spirit.
The white paper stated that "online pharmacies will promote drug abuse, drug misuse, self-medication. Any medication taken without supervision of doctors may be dangerous and even potentially life threatening".
Further it is directly contravening section 18(c) of the Drug &Cosmetics Act 1940 & Rules 1945, which prohibits manufacture and sale of certain drugs . The restrictive drugs classified as Schedule H & Schedule X drugs NOT PERMITTED at all to be sold online, this is allowed only valid prescription by Registered Medical Practitioners. While separate register to maintain for Schedule H1 drug sale.
They further stated that, According to clause 12.1 of Chapter 7 of the Pharmacy Practice Regulation 2015 of the Pharmacy Act,1948 there is strict prohibition of Advertising of discount or commission of any Pharmaceutical product.
But, in on-line medicines sales practice is going on and offers drugs at low cost or at discounted prices to lure the customers as well aiming to finish the existing distribution channel which employs large numbers of employees.
The discount offered through advertisement in print & electronic media is as high as 30%, whereas the Industry by & large gives trade margin 8% at stockist, 18% at retail level. Question automatically will come how online pharmacies can offer 30% against 26-28% trade margin. The people of the country have the right to know the source of procurement and its myth of such discount. People will think such attempts of luring the customer may lead to circulation of spurious and substandard medicines causing big challenges on health care. There are numbers of such cases of substandard & spurious medicines even adulterant drugs circulation across the Country.
Recently Rajasthan Drug Controller, Ranchi Drug Inspector offices, and a few days back in Assam at NAGAON district also had such incidents of spurious and substandard medicines.
JAPFO further stated that, "Net-meds.com, PharmEasy, Apollo, Marg, Reliance amazon, Flipkart, KEIMED LIMITED, Ankamed, Esquare, EasySol, Uddan are the big giant become bulk buyers to pharma companies, besides that number of players are in the market pausing big threat to safe, effective and rational use such medicines."
The online sale has already captured approximately 15000 crores which is 13-14 % value wise market share against the total Indian Pharma market of 1.5 lakh crores. This clearly gives indication about take-over or shift of Pharmaceutical in the hand of big giants for the sake of profit by claiming so called easy availability of medicines at doorstep. The existing supply chain is quite capable of delivering pharmaceutical and life-saving medicines to the nook & corner of the country and doing it even in pandemic situations. The role of this fraternity was widely recognised by Industry, even the Hon'ble Prime Minister applauded it.
The on-line sale cannot reach the most difficult and distant places through a network /courier system. The time-tested distribution network with more than 20 lakhs retail pharmacy/ chemist located in nook & corner of the nation fulfilling the needs of the people, this can be strengthened with some incentives and benefits unlike those given to big houses.
The most alarming situation being created is bypassing the law of the land to slowly vanish the large number of small retail pharmacies/chemists.
Organisation like IMA (lndian Medical Association), PCI (Pharmacy Council of lndia), CAIT(Confederation of Indian Trade), AIOCD (All India Oraganisation of Chemists & Druggists), FMRAI (Federation of Medical & Sales Representative Association of India) at national level already raising their protest voices and demanded appropriate action to stop the multifarious effect in health care & Pharmaceutical Industry.
JAPFO also appealed to the central Government to reduce the prices of medicines, which now goes beyond the reach of people. The government should reduce the prices at MRP level, rather roll back the recent hike to the extent of 10% of 800 medicines belonging to the National List of essential Medicines (NLEM).
On increasing prices of medicine, JAPFO further said, "it should not allow such huge discounts to lure customers. The discount of medicines should not be like other commodities. In providing proper health care, medicine being the vital component needs a responsible approach on price issues from the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA). There should be restrictions on the quantum of discount and rate to be decided at the national level to curb unfair trade practices. Any benefit in the form of a discount should be available on a uniform basis to all the people in general."