- E-pharmacy model provides digital tracking and traceability of medicines, addresses the problem of counterfeit medicines, unsupervised consumption of antibiotics without prescription, and improves access & affordability of medicines for the patient – Key takeaways from the event
The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) – an apex business organization – announced the launch of Self-regulation Code of Conduct for the E-pharmacy sector in the presence of Government dignitaries and the concerned stakeholders on 21st November, 2016, FICCI, New Delhi.
The conference saw participation from key stakeholders across the spectrum at senior levels Dr. Didar Singh, Secretary General, FICCI, Shri Arvind Gupta (Digital India Foundation), Shri Bejon Misra (Leading Consumer Activist), and Shri Prashant Tandon (CEO of 1mg), Shri Dharmil Sheth (Co-founder of PharmEasy), Shri Tushar Kumar (CEO of Medlife), Shri Pradeep Dadha (Founder Netmeds), Rajiv Ranjan (CEO of mChemist) and representatives from Industry.
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, as long as they operate within the framework of the law.
Shri Arvind Gupta, Head of Digital India Foundation emphasised that digital technology in healthcare sector can benefit consumers more accurately. There is a greater need to build India health stock with Aadhar Card and digi locker to track and monitor sensitive medicines across pharma retail sector.
Finally, Mr. Prashant Tandon, CEO and Founder of 1mg mentioned that the sector needs a lot of support and entrepreneurs need to be encouraged to solve the many problems that exist in the sector today. He spoke about strong interest groups and vested lobbies trying to ensure that there is no transparency, but E-pharmacy is an idea whose time has come and India is embracing this model. He also mentioned that a group of progressive e-pharmacies call IPA has shared their recommendations on best practices that the Indian regulator should adopt, and as a group they look forward to productive engagement with the regulator to help make the Indian pharmacy sector a model sector that works.
At the end, all stakeholders were aligned that E-pharmacy is a reality and the regulator needs to take a positive and proactive approach to make sure the right players are enabled, while the potential for abuse is also addressed.
About Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI)
Established in 1927, FICCI is the largest and oldest apex business organization in India. Its history is closely interwoven with India’s struggle for independence, its industrialization, and emergence as one of the most rapidly growing global economies.
A non-government, not-for-profit organization, FICCI is the voice of India’s business and industry. From influencing policy to encouraging debate, engaging with policy makers and civil society, FICCI articulates the views and concerns of the industry. It serves its members from the Indian private and public corporate sectors and multinational companies, drawing its strength from diverse regional chambers of commerce and industry across states, reaching out to over 2,50,000 companies.
FICCI provides a platform for networking and consensus building within and across sectors and is the first port of call for Indian industries, policy makers, and the international business community.
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