Court Update

Apr 1 2020

Online Sales of Medicines: Madras High Court Petition

By the judgment (dated 17.12.2018) in the matter captioned The Tamil Nadu Chemists and Druggists Association vs UOI and Ors; W.P. No. 28716 of 2018, the Madras High Court has directed the Union of India, the State of Tamil Nadu and the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation, to notify the proposed Drugs and Cosmetics Amendment Rules, 2018 in the Gazette at the earliest and not later than 31.01.2019.

The judgment further records that in the meanwhile, till such rules are notified, on-line traders are bound not to proceed with their on-line business in drugs and cosmetics.

Do further note, that after the pronouncement of the judgment, upon the request of the private Respondents, the judgment may not be given effect to, till they prefer an appeal, as the judgment will force them to unplug their trade of online medicines. Therefore by a subsequent order on the same date, the Court has directed that the judgment will not be given effect to till 10:30 a.m. on 20.12.2018.

The operative parts of the judgment are reproduced below.

“35. While the draft rules are published in the Gazette, they are yet to be notified. Once it is notified, there is bound to be disagreement between law makers, drug companies, on-line traders and finally the consumers. In the absence of any Central or State Government legislation or rules, on-line sale of prescription drugs could hardly be curbed.

36. The Central Government had already been given a longer rope by the order of the Division Bench, which was passed as early as on 20.12.2016. Though around two years have passed from the date of the said judgment, the rules are still at the draft stage.

37. For the reasons set hitherto, it becomes necessary for the Central Government to notify the rules at the earliest in the interest of public and the on-line drug trade. Accordingly, respondents 1 and 3 are directed to notify the proposed Drugs and Cosmetics Amendment Rules, 2018 in the Gazette at the earliest, however, not later than 31.01.2019. Thereafter, the concerned stakeholders, namely, persons doing trade in on-line pharmacy have to obtain their licences in the manner prescribed in the rules to be notified, within a period of two months from the date of such notification.

38. As the draft rules are framed by the Central Government, after deliberations including the stakeholders, till the aforesaid rules are notified, the on-line traders are bound not to proceed with their on-line business in drugs and cosmetics.

39. With the above directions, this writ petition stands disposed of. However, there shall be no order as to costs. Consequently, connected miscellaneous petition is closed.”

“After the pronouncement of the order, learned Senior Counsels appearing for the private respondents submitted that the on-line drug traders will be forced to unplug the trade of on-line medicines till they prefer an appeal and requested not to give effect to the order.

2. Heard the learned Senior Counsel appearing on behalf of the petitioner.

3. Having regard to the submissions of either side, the order passed today will not be given effect to till 10.30 a.m. on 20.12.2018.”

The judgment can be accessed here. We remain available for any further assistance.


ELP Pharma & Life Sciences Team

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