The Karnataka government issued an order permitting authorities to initiate prosecution proceedings against Snapdeal.
New Delhi: The e-pharma industry had just got a breather from the court, that online sale of drugs has come once again under the scanner affecting the reputation of the industry.
The Karnataka government issued an order permitting authorities to initiate prosecution proceedings against Snapdeal and its seller for “unlawfully selling drugs”.
The Karnataka drugs controller in a December 21 order permitted assistant drug controller in Belagavi to initiate prosecution proceedings against Snapdeal, its chief executive officer Kunal Bahl, chief operating officer Rohit Kumar Bansal for their involvement in display, sale and distribution of Suhagra 100, a schedule H drug, on their platform, PTI reported.
The case pertains to a 2014 sting operation carried out by the drug authorities.
“The drug cannot be sold over the counter in violation of drugs and cosmetics norms,” Karnataka drugs controller Amaresh Tumbagi was quoted by PTI.
Prosecution proceedings also have been initiated against Herbal Health Care, a Ludhiana-based company, for selling the drug on the Snapdeal platform. Suhagra-100, a sex stimulant drug that falls under schedule H category of drugs can’t be purchased over the counter without doctor’s prescription.
Snapdeal is not a company, which has received licence under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act to sell drugs online; neither does the seller have a licence.
Usually licenced e-pharma companies ask for a prescription from the customer. They check whether the prescription comes from an authorised doctor and has not crossed the validity period before delivering the medicine.
The Delhi High Court and the Madras High Court had recently come down heavily upon the e-pharma companies and they were also restricted from operating for some time. However, the licenced online pharmacies got a breather last week to operate till further orders from the Madras High Court.
Meanwhile, Snapdeal, in a statement, said it was just an intermediary. “Snapdeal is an intermediary that connects independent, third-party sellers with buyers. Sellers are prohibited from selling any schedule H drugs on Snapdeal. Any reported violations are acted upon strictly, including barring future access to the marketplace for any such sellers,” company spokesperson said. “We also extend all required cooperation to law enforcement in this regard. We haven’t received any communication in this instance and hence cannot offer any specific comment,” he added.
Industry experts find that Snapdeal might not be affected by the sale of schedule H drug, as under section 79 of the Information Technology Act, intermediaries are not liable for any third party information, data or communication link made available.
The government has not yet formulated regulations for the e-pharma companies. Once that comes into force, probably the intermediaries too will be liable for the sale of products on the platform.
“The e-pharmacy draft regulation has been passed by the drug technical advisory board (DTAB), which is the highest nodal authority before issuance of a new regulation. We are confident that post examination of the guidelines that are defined by the D&C Act, the legal and regulatory aspect of the functioning of e-pharmacies will be clear,” said Pradeep Dadha, founder and CEO, Netmeds.