The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) today announced the launch of Self-regulation Code of Conduct for the E pharmacy sector in the presence of key stakeholders here.
Accessibility, affordability and lack of awareness are the major challenges for last mile access to medicines. These barriers could be effectively overcome by adopting technology, specifically the Internet, into the healthcare system. Over the last one year, E-pharmacy has come up as a significant channel to provide last mile access to medicines. This will most importantly benefit patients of chronic diseases, elderly patients and sick patients who are not in a condition to go out to find a pharmacy.
The E-Pharmacy model provides tracking and traceability of medicines, addressing the problem of counterfeit medicines, consumption of drugs without prescription, tax loss and provides value added services for consumer empowerment in healthcare, which are well aligned with Digital India initiative of our Honourable Prime Minister with a vision to transform the country into a digitally empowered society. The conference started with the release of the Self-regulation Code of Conduct –an attempt by the Industry to adhere to the highest professional standards and to have proper safeguards so as to ensure that consumer’s health and safety is not compromised.
- Processing medicines against Prescription
Scheduled medicines must be processed only against a valid copy of prescription (physical or scanned copy) of a registered medical practitioner
- Restriction of Sensitive habit forming medicines
E pharmacy must ensure that no schedule X and other sensitive habit forming medicines are processed through their platform. Ensure there are adequate checks and balances in place to prevent sale of any such drugs.
- Dispensation only from duly licensed pharmacy domiciled in India
E Pharmacy must ensure that the medicines are dispensed through licensed pharmacies only. The E pharmacy must make reasonable effort to ensure that all the pharmacy partners (before facilitating the sale of any medicines through such pharmacy partners) are duly registered under the Drugs & Cosmetics Act/ Rules.
- Convenient access of medicines
E-pharmacy player must make suitable arrangements to ensure that the medicines are packed, transported and delivered in such a way that their integrity, quality, and effectiveness are preserved.
- Public health Initiatives of Government of India
E pharmacy players must partner with Government for any recall of medicines and collect adverse events of medicines (consumer reports) and comply to submit them to National Centre for Pharmacovigilance.
- Customer grievances
E pharmacy must ensure that there is a proper mechanism in place to address any queries or grievances that the end-customer may have. E pharmacy players must appoint an ombudsman commission comprising of reputed members of civil society to address any public grievance. The Ombudsman commission shall be appointed for six months by members of the governing council in consultation with other stakeholders.
Dr. Didar Singh, Secretary General, FICCI voiced the support of consumer friendly models and mentioned that India needs to move with the times and embrace new age models to stay ahead. Also FICCI has been at the forefront helping many sectors operate with a process of developing self-governance models, and this initiative is a step in the right direction to help enable this sector of the economy
Arvind Gupta, Head of Digital India Foundation said “we need to embrace technology – in both offline and online models. There is a great opportunity to take this ecosystem ahead by leveraging the India stack using the existing infrastructure of Aadhar and Digi-locker to maintain the repository of prescription, health records and monitor the dispensing of sensitive medicines. All pharmacies, online or offline, should check prescriptions on this locker”
Noted consumer activist, Bejon Mishra, welcomed the initiative and re-iterated that there is no difference between e-Pharmacy and offline pharmacy, and both should operate with compliance and maintain proper records and dispense with prescription. He also congratulated the effort of the association to come up with progressive self-regulation framework and suggested that there be mechanisms put in place to make sure this is adhered to.
Prashant Tandon, CEO and Founder of 1mg mentioned that this group of progressive e-pharmacies have come up with code of conduct in the interest of consumers and as a group they look forward to productive engagement with the regulator to help make the Indian pharmacy sector a model sector.”
Pawan Kaul, Co-Chair of FICCI e-commerce committee added that “by recognising and registering the legitimate e pharmacies, Government can easily address the challenges by maintaining sanctity of both IT act and Drug and Cosmetic Act. This will bring effectiveness and efficiency in the entire ecosystem.”