Aiming to curb arbitrary consumption of antibiotics, the health ministry and the central drugs regulator are developing an online platform, where all chemists and druggists will have to register.
Stockists and retailers will also be required to submit data on the stock they procure. Stock returned to the manufacturer would also be updated on the centralised platform. Drug manufacturers will have to register themselves and update sale of drugs to distributors and wholesalers, with expiry dates.
With anti-microbial resistance on the rise, the government is working on a track-and-trace mechanism through the centralised portal, according to a health ministry notice to stakeholders, inviting comments by April 15.
While the identity of doctors prescribing any medicine must be part of the database, patients’ profiles will have to be included as well in the case of high-risk drugs and narcotics. The notice also says no habit-forming drug can be exported against internet orders.
The government had earlier introduced bar-coding on primary, secondary and tertiary packs of drugs meant to be exported. However, this mechanism was not made mandatory for domestic circulation.
The notice suggests details of all sales have to be updated by chemists — online and offline — from time to time. This would include drugs dispensed by hospitals. The notice, reviewed by Business Standard, says, “Hospitals and other clinical establishments or other authorised persons, both in the public and the private sector, shall be required to enter details of medicines dispensed or distributed, issued or made available to patients.”
In urban areas, updates have to be in real-time. In rural and remote regions, pharmacies will be allowed to upload data once every fortnight.
Bejon Misra, founder, Consumer Online Foundation, says this will help assess whether slashing the prices of drugs does ensure accessibility to medicines and ensure that nobody sells above the level fixed by the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority.