Industry body IAMAI asks Govt to Notify e-pharmacy rules immediately for fair competition
"The delay in notification of the draft e-pharmacy rules gives an opportunity to vested groups of distributors and retailers to spread misinformation in a manner that mutes competition and contributes to high drug prices in India," IAMAI said.
New Delhi: Industry body IAMAI on Monday alleged that certain "vested groups of distributors and retailers" are spreading misinformation that mutes competition and contributes to high drug prices in India, and urged the government to finalize the draft e-pharmacy rules and notify them immediately.
The Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), representing e-pharma start-ups, said that in the absence of a set of clearly defined rules, "various groups with vested interests are approaching the courts and jeopardizing 30,000 livelihoods directly or indirectly employed in this sector". While IAMAI did not name these groups, it said these are also risking the health of six million consumers in 15,000 pin codes who were supplied during the COVID-19 lockdown.
"The delay in notification of the draft e-pharmacy rules gives an opportunity to vested groups of distributors and retailers to spread misinformation in a manner that mutes competition and contributes to high drug prices in India," IAMAI said. It added that it is important to enabling competition in the pharmaceutical supply chain.
IAMAI said the e-pharmacy model operates in full compliance and harmony with existing laws. Explaining the mechanism of operations, IAMAI said a digital platform receives the request for medicines from a patient along with the prescription and conveys it to a brick-and-mortar licensed pharmacy store that dispenses the medicine, fully governed under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act (D&C Act).
"E-Pharmacy Draft Rules provide sector-specific e-commerce regulations with the aim to harmonize existing laws/guidelines like the (information technology) IT Act, D&C Act and rules, and other relevant regulations. These draft rules came after over 25 multi-stakeholder consultations over a period of 4 years and have also been approved by the Drug Technical Advisory Board, the highest expert body for pharmaceutical regulation in India," it said in a statement.
IAMAI highlighted that the delays are "purely unjustified, and unfortunate, and seem to go in the opposite direction from the articulated vision of Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) for a Digital India where innovation thrives".
It also emphasized that the sector needs urgent government support to notify the e-pharmacy draft rules that are pending for long.
"Notifying the rules will unleash the potential of technology to improve the access and affordability of quality medicines for the country," it said.
The retail pharmacy sector needs a lot of supply chain, technology, and access solutions to make healthcare delivery more efficient and affordable, and a pre-requisite for this is a simple and clear regulatory pathway for innovation to thrive in this important space, it added.