E-PHARMACY IN INDIA, BY- ARVIND PANDA

With growing technology and advancements in the digital world, the Internet revolutionised the lifestyle of humans. Today everything is available on the internet from shopping online to enjoying a movie, everything is accessible to us while sitting at our home, all thanks to the internet. The world is transitioning from offline to online markets. The increasing trend and shift to E-commerce have led to the advent of online or E-pharmacies. However, not only the advanced technology but the pandemic also boosted the reliability of the Internet for pharmaceutical purpose. People were not allowed to went out of their home due to lockdown and this boosted the E pharma business. Ordering medicines are very easy with just a few clicks and accessible to everyone. An order of medicines is placed on the E-pharmacy website or app and the drugs are delivered to the customers chosen address. As a result, a customer need not visit the pharmaceutical store. There are various benefits to taking this business to the online platform. First, E-pharmacies improve customer convenience and access. They also improve access to rural areas where there are limited retail pharmacies available. Second, E-pharmacies are cost effective as they typically offer discounts. Third, E-pharmacies offer health information like drug interactions, side-effects, warnings and automated medicine reminders which enables the consumer in improving compliance. Last, online transactions on E-pharmacies can be tracked with complete details of the medicines, batch number and details of retail pharmacy, prescribing doctor and the customer. This can help prevent drug abuse and overconsumption.

As we know a coin has two sides. With benefits, There are also numerous risks involved with E-pharmacies. One of the biggest concerns is that E-pharmacies dispense drugs against the scanned copy of a prescription. These are easy to manipulate and hence, can result in over use of drugs. The second concern is the presence of illegal E-pharmacies which may sell low quality drugs and unauthorised drugs that are banned by the government for use. Third, the privacy of the customer is at risk as information is stored online. Fourth, some drugs require specific storage conditions and if not monitored properly, sensitive drugs may lose their efficacy and usefulness. Further, mishandling during transportation can also affect the drugs. Last, since the internet is easily accessible by minors, they can order medicines online and can consume them without parental supervision. This can lead to drug abuse and over-consumption and can lead to a serious issue. Considering the growing dependence on E-commerce and that Covid 19 disables customers from physically visiting pharmacies, E-pharmacies are the need of the hour. Regulating E-pharmacies is inescapable considering the significant impact they can have on health. Therefore it is of utmost importance that the Draft Rules are enacted at the earliest after addressing the pointed out problems. Further, to tackle the problems of effective regulation of E-pharmacies, policymakers can take into consideration the measures introduced by other countries like the USA and EU. For instance, to prevent customers from falling victim to illegal pharmacies.

BY- ARVIND PANDA

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