Chennai: The Madras high court on Wednesday restrained the online sale of medicines with an interim injunction till November 9.

Justice R Mahadevan passed the interim order on a writ petition filed by the Chennai-based Tamil Nadu Chemists and Druggists Association. The petition of the association was to ban websites that sell drugs online.

The petition intended to prevent the harm that can be caused to the public when the online sale of drugs listed in Schedule H, H1, and X of the 1940 Act was unchecked in the country though there was a stringent ban on selling such medicines without the prescription by medical practitioners.

The association also pointed out that online shopping from unlicensed online stores is risky as they may sell fake, expired, contaminated, unapproved drugs or otherwise unsafe products that are dangerous to humans, which might cause harm to their health and even life sometimes.

The high court judge concurred with this point: “This cannot be allowed. Thousands of innocent people may purchase the drugs online just because they are sold at cheaper prices and they end up getting harmful products. What will happen if steroids are allowed to be sold without any prescription? This court shall examine the issue in detail.”

As India does not have any existing laws regarding the online sale of medicines, the uncertainties regarding the control of online sale would cause harm to the people. Even several amendments have been made to the Act but, nothing related to make use of information technology for sale of medicines online.