The rules governing online pharmacies are unlikely to get finalised before the upcoming elections with the government seeking more time on it.
The earlier timeline for rules to be finalised was January 31. This was critical for a sector looking for some regulatory direction, as traditional chemists and e-pharmacies, or those selling medicines through online channels, locked horns at the Delhi and Madras High Courts, separately. In fact, the Madras HC had earlier vacated an interim stay on the online sale of medicines till the rules were finalised by the government. But at the latest hearing at the Delhi High Court on Wednesday, the government sought six months more for the rules to be framed, with the next hearing on the case coming up in May, Nakul Mohta, an advocate, told BusinessLine. In the meanwhile, the stay on online pharmacies continues, added Mohta, who, along with senior advocate Arvind Nigam, represents the Delhi petitioner on the issue, dermatologist Dr Zaheer Ahmed.
With e-pharmacies advertising their services and discounts on television channels, Mohta said they have filed an additional application asking the government to take action against the continuing online sale of medicines. The government and online companies have been asked to come back to the Court with their status report and counters, respectively.