Advances in technology, internet access, and digital integration have changed the way people live. The world is changing from offline to online markets. Increasing status and switching to E-commerce have led to the availability of internet or E-pharmacy. E-pharmacy is a virtual platform that works as an E-commerce website. The medication order is placed on the website/application and the medication is delivered to the selected clients. As a result, the customer does not have to visit the brick and mortar. OTC medications can be ordered directly, and with prescription drugs, the customer is required to download a scanned copy of the original drug.

Pharmacies use three types of business. First, an innovative model in which E – pharmacies has the drug itself and sells it directly to customers through its website/program; Second, a market model in which E -pharmacy acts as a platform and consultant and connects the customer with brick and mortar pharmacy; Thirdly, your combination of both. Other prominent E-pharmacies are Netmeds, 1mg, Medlife, Pharmeasy, etc.


  • E-pharmacies are increasing in demand because of their benefits.

  • First, E-Pharmacie improves customer convenience and access. They also improve access to rural areas where there is a limited presence of retail pharmacies.

  • Second, E-pharmacies are cost-effective as they typically offer discounts.

  • Third, E-Pharmacies offer health information like interactions, side-effects, warnings, and automated medicine reminders which enables the consumer in improving compliance.

  • Last, online transactions on e-pharmacies can be tracked with complete details of the medicine, batch number, and details of retail pharmacy, prescribing doctor, and the customer. This can help prevent drug abuse and overconsumption,

There are also numerous risks involved with  E-pharmacies

  • One of the biggest concerns is that E-pharmacies dispense drugs against the scanned copy of a prescription. These are easy to manipulate and hence, can result in the overuse of drugs.

  • The second concern is the presence of illegal E-pharmacies which may sell low-quality drugs.

  • Third, the privacy of the customer is at risk as information is stored online.

  • Fourth some drugs require specific storage conditions and if not monitored properly, the sensitive drug may lose their efficacy and potency. Further, mishandling during transportation can also affect the drugs.

  • Last, since the interest is easily accessible by minors, they can order medicines online and can consume them without parental supervision. This can lead to drug abuse and over-consumption.

The risks associated with them can not be ignored because of the far-reaching consequence they can have on an individual's health. In order to control and mitigate the risks, it is important for E-pharmacies to be effectively regulated.


In India, the manufacture, sale, and distribution of drugs is governed by the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 (‘DCA’), Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945 (‘DCR’), Pharmacy Act, 1948, Pharmacy Practice Regulations, 2015 and the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisement) Act, 1954.

Now the question arises as to whether these laws regulate E-pharmacies. DCA and DCR have no provisions regarding the sale of medicines online. In 2015, the Office of Drug Control clarified that DCA and DCR do not distinguish between normal and online drug trafficking which is why the provisions of DCA and DCR should be followed by E-pharmacy. The Regulatory Code of Conduct was also issued by FICCI in 2016, but this is not legally binding. While the Office of the Controller of Drugs approved the operation of E-pharmacy under the DCA, the high courts expressed a different view. In 2018, the Madras Supreme Court ruled that until Drugs and Cosmetics (Amendment Rules), 2018 was not notified, online drug trafficking would not be allowed. Following this, the Delhi High Court also banned the sale of drugs online without a license. However, later the separatist bench of the Supreme Court of Madras upheld an order banning the sale of medicines online, stating that this could lead to disruption and health problems for the people involved in the sale of medicines online is suddenly banned online drug sales were allowed.

Therefore there are some key concerns and challenges that arise in applying the existing framework to E-pharmacies:

a) Dispensing Drugs

b) Misuse of Prescriptions 

c) Operation of illegal E-pharmacies 

d) Privacy of healthcare data

e) Storage and Transporation 

f) Regulatory machinery 


In conclusion, this does not mean that e-pharmacies do not offer different benefits and advantages. In particular, e-pharmacies have the potential to reduce the availability of medicines by providing home delivery, in particular, to vulnerable people, such as the elderly, and those with disabilities. Technological advances in e-pharmacy models also make it easier to track pre-orders and set drug reminders, making it easier for customers. As such, it empowers transparency, thus making it easier to track drug abuse, prevent abuse, promote the provision of quality medicines, and ensure the proper payment of taxes. Not surprisingly, the online health sector has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of covid closure, and online sales of health products are estimated to have quadrupled this year.  Significantly, the covid closure made emphasizes the importance of e-commerce players in maintaining social mobility practices and providing the delivery of valuable goods in critical times. Ideally, after covid, the online health market is projected to expand by $ 25 billion in all sectors, but mainly in prescription and e-consultation, compared to the pre-closing rate of $ 16 billion. Thus, to reap the benefits. The benefits of e-pharmacy but also to control its misuse, e-pharmacy should be given the same platform to compete and thrive in the market. While the MHA directs to monitor and allow online drug delivery during the closure is a welcome step in this regard, the need for an hour is a framework that reflects the legal status of e-pharmacies and regulates e-pharmacy performance and disputes existing confusion caused by the existing legal gap.

Want to start an e-pharmacies business? eStartIndia will help you to get the necessary approval to start your e-pharmacies business hassle-free


Damini Nagar
B.A LLB from Indore institution of Law

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