The Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) of India has released through The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), new guidelines recommending the use of internet and other connected media and devices in order to increase access to health and healthcare services. This strategy is aimed especially towards senior citizens, as well as those living in villages that are not able to seek healthcare service providers.
As the business of pharmaceutical goods falls under the Drug and Cosmetics Act of 1940, there were no clear regulations concerning the sales of pharmaceutical products via the internet. As such the Indian Pharmacist Association requested the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI), to formulate guidelines on the use of technology for the pharmaceutical industry.
India has had concerns regarding the use of online pharmacies as the country encountered issues with the misuse of technology, the safety of electronic prescriptions and opposition from offline chemists. Currently, major players include 1mg.com, Bookmeds, mChemist, Medidart, Medlife, Medstar, Netmeds, Pharmeasy, Zigy.com (PM Health & Life Care), SaveOnMedicals and Savemymeds.
The use of internet based solutions will have a positive effect not only on the access to treatments but also the monitoring supply chains as medicines and prescriptions should be traceable and well documented. It should also increase competition between the providers which should allow less fortunate Indians to afford treatments, as the country is experiencing a trend faced by many nations, a shift from infectious diseases to non-communicable diseases (NCD’s).
Recommendations from the CDSCO include the restriction of habit inducing drugs such as various forms of morphine’s or sleeping pills to be sold using such a retail method. It is estimated that electronic pharmacies could become a major player in the future and account for about 5 to 15 percent of total pharmaceutical sales in the country.