To buy or not to buy on­line

Hindustan Times (Patna) - Live - - Lifestyle - Su­san Jose su­san. jose@ hin­dus­tan­times. com — With in­puts from Dr Man­jusha Agar­wal, Gen­eral Physi­cian, Global Hos­pi­tals

On Oc­to­ber 14, chemists all over In­dia pulled down their shut­ters for a day to protest the on­line sale of drugs. Ap­prox­i­mately 18,000 stores par­tic­i­pated in the na­tion­wide strike that was called by the All In­dia Or­gan­i­sa­tion of Chemists and Drug­gists (AIOCD).

For the unini­ti­ated, the protest was held against the gov­ern­ment’s move to amend the Drugs and Cos­met­ics Act 1940. The amend­ments will en­able the Drug Con­troller Gen­eral of In­dia (DCGI) to put in place a proper sys­tem and reg­u­la­tions for the on­line sale of drugs. How­ever, ex­perts aren’t en­tirely con­vinced of the ad­van­tages of the sys­tem.

Dr Apra­tim Goel, der­ma­tol­o­gist and laser sur­geon, Cutis Skin Stu­dio, is “per­son­ally” in favour of the dig­i­tal age, but adds that it is im­per­a­tive that the reg­u­la­tory con­di­tions put in place are strict. “E-phar­ma­cies are not a bad idea, pro­vided, they are man­aged well. It is proven to be a suc­cess­ful model in North Amer­ica and Europe,” she says, adding, “In a coun­try like In­dia, where the reg­u­la­tory sys­tems and in­fras­truc­ture are usu­ally poor, there could be lots of cons to this won­der­ful sys­tem if it is not strictly reg­u­lated.”

Dr Soma Sarkar, cos­metic der­ma­tol­o­gist, About Face, opines, “When drugs are avail­able on­line, they can be mis­used. Even some­thing as ba­sic as a cough syrup, when con­sumed in higher doses, can be dan­ger­ous. I’m es­pe­cially ap­pre­hen­sive about the col­lege-go­ing crowd that al­ways is on the look­out for faster and eas­ier ways to re­solve small health is­sues.”

Pros of on­line phar­ma­cies

It is sim­ple, con­ve­nient and pri­vate.

The doorstep de­liv­ery of medicines bought on­line saves time.

It is use­ful for dif­fer­ently abled pa­tients and the el­derly, as they, then, do not need to de­pend on fam­ily mem­bers to buy their medicines.

On­line phar­macy drugs can also be avail­able for cheaper rates, due to the var­i­ous dis­counts.

Cons of on­line phar­ma­cies

There are high chances of drugs be­ing mixed due to de­liv­ery er­rors.

In the on­line de­liv­ery of drugs, there are no in­struc­tions about their

con­sump­tion.

If the gov­ern­ment does not de­mand the com­pe­tent reg­u­la­tion of th­ese sites, one might end up buy­ing sub­sti­tuted, coun­ter­feit and out­dated drugs.

It can in­crease self-med­i­ca­tion or drug abuse, re­sult­ing in se­ri­ous health is­sues.

PHOTO: SHUTTERSTOCK

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