The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has published a set of draft rules on the sale of drugs by e-pharmacies with an aim to regulate the online medicines market, PTI reported on Sunday.

Online pharmacies will have to register with the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation, according to the draft rules, and obtain a trade licence to exhibit, stock and sell drugs.

The trade licence will be applicable across India. Currently, the e-pharma industry is less than 0.5% of the retail pharmacy landscape, but it is growing at an annual rate of over 100%, PTI reported.

“The details of patient shall be kept confidential and shall not be disclosed to any person other than the central government or the state government concerned, as the case may be,” the draft notification reads. “The supply of any drug shall be made against a cash or credit memo generated through the e-pharmacy portal and such memos shall be maintained by the e-pharmacy registration holder as record.”

Online pharmacies are banned from selling tranquillisers, narcotics and psychotropic drugs, as per the draft rules. “No e-pharmacy shall advertise any drug on radio or television or internet or print or any other media for any purpose,” the draft said.

Drugs Controller General of India Eswara Reddy said the rules have been proposed to ensure availability and accessibility of genuine drugs to people across the country. “These pharmacies will be purchasing directly from the drug manufacturer so they will also be able to give 20% to 30% discounts, thus benefitting the patients,” Reddy told PTI.