Nagpur: Meeting with Union minister positive, claim chemists

Nagpur: After their meeting on the e-pharmacy issue with Union minister of state for chemicals and fertilizers Mansukh Mandaviya on Tuesday, members of the delegation of the All India Organization of Chemists and Druggists (AIOCD) have claimed that the outcome was positive. “The minister was in agreement with the various issues raised by us, especially fraud e-prescriptions and data security of patients,” said Vaijanath Jagushte, a senior member of AIOCD, who was a part of the delegation. “The minister gave us a patient hearing for more than an hour. He assured us that the issues raised by chemists and druggists will be taken into consideration while finalizing the draft of the policy for e-pharmacies in India,” said Jagushte. 

The AIOCD feels that allowing a scanned copy/photograph/screenshot of the doctor’s prescription to purchase medicines online can result in a fraud. “Who will authenticate or verify the validity of such prescriptions? In foreign countries, physicians issue online prescriptions and protect them with e-signatures. In India, neither patients nor doctors are as tech-savvy as their counterparts abroad,” said Jagushte. The issue of unethical data hacking was also raised in the meeting. “Medical data is very sensitive and sharing it online is a major risk. 

E-pharmacies can share it unethically with other agencies. With India already facing a data hacking crisis, allowing e-pharmacies in the present pro forma of the bill will aggravate the problem,” said Jagushte. The minister’s attention was also drawn towards the proposed format of the e-pharmacy regulatory bill which, according to the AIOCD, is contradictory due to its six existing laws. “All the existing laws about pharmacy are patient-centric, while e-pharmacy is governed by rules pertaining to information technology. These rules are mainly commercial in nature. Public health is a sensitive subject. The online sale of medicines should not be allowed until the necessary infrastructure is developed and public awareness is created,” said Anil Navandar, secretary of AIOCD’s state unit. National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) chairman Shubhra Singh, secretary of the department of pharmaceuticals (DoP) Dr P D Vaghela and senior officials from the department of health and family welfare also attended the meeting.

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