Parliamentary panel calls on government for tough regulations in healthcare e-commerce sector

A parliamentary standing committee has expressed concern about the potential misuse of e-commerce platforms in the healthcare e-commerce sector. The panel highlighted the use of platforms for the distribution of illegal drugs or expired, substitute or counterfeit drugs in the absence of appropriate regulation in the sector.

The panel called for strict regulations in the e-health and e-pharmacy sectors given the potential health risks to the end user if misused.

The Rajya Sabha Commerce Standing Committee expressed dismay that the draft e-pharmacy rules have not been finalized so far and called on the government to address it as a matter of priority.

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“The Committee, while appreciating the rise of e-commerce in the pharmaceutical and health sector, is concerned about the possible misuse of these channels,” it said in its latest report.

The Committee therefore recommends that a comprehensive guideline which encompasses the due diligence measures to be undertaken by online pharmacy/e-health platforms, mandatory registration with the competent authority for the sale of medicinal products, the allocation responsibility on these platforms for the sale of authentic drugs, the regulation of the sale of controlled drugs, etc. should be formulated in consultation with stakeholders, he said.

He also observed that the government had failed to collect and maintain essential data, especially on the direct and indirect jobs generated by the e-commerce sector.