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Online pharmacies in India have significantly increased due to growing E-commerce in India. An online pharmacy is an Internet-based vendor of prescription drugs, and the term encompasses both legitimate and illegitimate pharmacies. Online pharmacies have been increasing in India, with the rise attributed to little regulation of the industry. The Maharashtra Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) has also raided 27 online pharmacies located in Mumbai, Thane and Pune and seized drugs worth Rs. 2 Crore.

Technology can help in meeting the healthcare objective of India. Indian government is planning to spend Rs 500 crore on computer literacy project for 50 lakh people over a period of 3 years. This would help Indian citizens to access government services in the fields of e-education, e-health and e-governance. Healthcare providers in India are also expected to spend $1.1 billion on IT products and services in 2014.

The Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, and the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945, have guidelines on the sale of Schedule H and Schedule X drugs. These can be sold only on prescription and there are specific rules, including for labelling and bar coding.

It appears that electronic prescriptions should be valid especially in the light of the Pharmacy Practice Regulations of 2015 declared by Pharmacy Council of India in January 2015. In these regulations, “Prescription” is defined by regulation 2 (j) ‘means a written or electronic direction from a Registered Medical Practitioner…….' On basis of existing regulations it appears that a scanned copy of prescription will be perfectly considered as a valid prescription. However, whether such electronic prescriptions can be used to buy medicine from online pharmacies has been questioned.
When looking for a prescription-free online pharmacy, one should make sure that the pharmacy is trustworthy and reliable.

We want a pharmacy that:

(1) Supplies genuine drugs, not fake drugs (although I understand that fake drugs generally do often contain the same active ingredient as legitimate drugs).

(2) Reliably mails the drugs to you (with less reliable pharmacies, you find more frequent reports on online forums of drugs paid for but not arriving).

(3) Does not pass on your personal details to spammers. Some online pharmacies will sell you email address or telephone number to spammers, and you may then get nuisance marketing telephone calls, or more email spam.

(4) Does not use your credit card number fraudulently. Some very low end, unscrupulous online pharmacies will occasionally pass on your credit card details, leading to fraudulent use of your card. This has happened to me more than once. I am not sure if it is the management of the online pharmacies that is responsible, or whether it is just some dishonest employees working in the pharmacy.

In any case, when an online pharmacy does start to engage in such fraudulent practices, very quickly reports of this will appear in online, so it is relatively easy to determine whether a pharmacy has fraudulent tendencies or not.
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